Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, March 31, 2023


 "Jim Hardy" began his career,  (sort of) as Jim Conley, Ex-Convict.  Creator Dick Moores worked with Chet Gould on Gould's Dick Tracy strip for nearly four years, from 1932 to 1936.  During that time, Moores was constantly trying to come up with a strip of his own.  After several dozen tries, he managed to sell Jim Conley, Ex-Convict to United Features Syndicate.  Moores envisioned a hard-boiled, gritty strip, more realistically drawn than other leading strips, such as Tracy or Little Orphan Annie.  The only problem was that no newspaper would touch the strip -- some balked at the idea of making an ex-convict the hero, others shied away from Conley's Irish name.  The idea was re-tooled and the result was Jim Hardy, no longer an ex-convict seeking redemption, but a "down on his luck" guy versus the world.  Hardy starts off being kicked out of his boarding house and approached by crooks to join them.  Hardy bounces around from job to job, acquiring a girlfriend and a kid companion, until he lands a job as a reporter, battling racketeers and corrupt politicians.

The comic strip was never overly popular and, about four years in, introduced a skinny cowboy character named Windy, who was in charge of a racehorse names Paddles.  In late 1940, Jim Hardy left the strip forever and it was renamed Windy and Paddles, until the strip was cancelled in October, 1942.  Jim Hardy, however, found an audience in comic books; the comic strip adventures were reprinted in Tip Top Comics and were featured in one-shot appearances in Comics on Parade, Sparkler Comics, and in 1944's giant edition of Jim Hardy Comics Books.  A Big Little Book, Jim Hardy, Ace Reporter, was published in 1940; no others featurng the character were published.

Moores went on to work for Walt Disney's comics strips and, in 1959, began a 27-year run as the writer and artist of Gasoline Alley.

In this issue, Jim and Molly are investigating the deaths of two race car drivers.  (Whoops!  Make that three...Whoops!  Add a private eye to the death count,,,)  Molly puts her ife on the line by driving one of the cars but Jim is able to unmask the "Black Goggles" killer in the nick of time.  Next, Mollie overhears a plot to destroy the city's cable cars and she and Jim go on the trail of the baddies.  Finally, JUim and Molly get involved in a plot against a young boy who does a death-defying motorcycle act.

Also in this issue are four adventures of The Triple Terror -- the three Brandon Borthers.  Their late father's genius was used in destructive warfare, so the brothers -- Bruce, Richard, and Brandon -- vowed to use their talents only to aid humanity.  Bruce Brandon was Menta, the Mental Master of Men, Richard Brandon was Lectra, the Electrical Wizard, and Barton Brandon was Chemix, the Genius of Chenistry.  They all wear yellow body suits, blue tights, red underwear on the outside, and domino masks.  These adventures were written by Fred Methor and drawn by Reg Greenwood.

Not to be out-"Dunn", there's also an episode of Mo Leff's Dynamite Dunn, Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Closing out the comic book are nine short adventures of The Mirror Man by Methot and Greenwood.  This is not the latter-day Batman villain, but is Dean Alder, the head of the Alder Academy, who fights crime and instructs the young.  He wears the Mystic Garment, a robe that enables him to walk in and out of mirrors and gives him some powers.

A bargain for 1944.  132 pages for just a quarter.  The sheer size of the comic book would make it seem a worth the cost to most kids in those 10-cent comic days.  

As far as the quality of some of the stories, let's just say that some comics publishers would search for a schitck, throw it against the wall. and see if it sticks.



Thursday, March 30, 2023


 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster (1961)

The classic juvenile fantasy, made even better (as if that were possible) by illustrations from Jules Feiffer:

Milo was a boy who "didn't know what to do with himself -- not just sometimes, but always."  Wishy-washy?  Perhaps.  No matter what he was doing or where he was, he always wanted to be doing comething else or being somewhere else.  And when he got there?... Well, you get the idea.

Coming home from school one afternoon, there was a huge crate waiting from him.  There was no indication where the box came from, or who sent it.  Attached to side of the box was a note:  "FOR MILO, WHO HAS PLENTY OF TIME."  An envelope revealed that the box contained one genuine turnpike tollbooth with easy-to-assemble instructions and a book of rules and traffic regulations.

Milo assembled the tollbooth, which also came with a few coins to be inserted into it.  Milo got into his toy car and inserted a coin into the tollbooth slot.  He suddenly found himself on a country highway, with neither the tollbooth or his room (or even his apartment building) in sight.  The strange map he had been given listed many places -- none of which he had heard of -- so he decided to go to one that sounded interesting, Dictionopolis.  The first stop along the way was the Land of Expectations, where he met the Whether Man, who explained that whether one went this way or whether one went that way, one would always end up somewhere;  if the road split in many directions, all pointing to Dictionopolis, it didn't matter whether you took this road or whether you took that road.

Milo's car seemed almost to drive itself and Milo soon stopped paying attention to where he was going.  Alas, this inattention led him to a gray, bleak land known as the Doldrums, where his car stopped moving and where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes.  There he met Tock, a large dog with a clock for a body -- a watchdog.  When Tock asked him how he had come to the Doldrums, Milo said that he probably was just not thinking.  Exactly, replied Tock, and to get out of the Doldrums, you must start thinking.  Tock jumped into the car beside Milo, and Milo began thinking.  "He thought of birds that swim and fish that fly.  He thought of yesterday's lunch and tomorrow's dinner.  He thought of words that began with J and numbers that end in 3.  And, as he thought, the wheels began to turn."  Soon Milo and Tock were on their way to Dictionopolis.

The main theme of the book is the impotance of learning how to think.

Once upon a time the land was empty.  Then a prince sailed across the Sea of Knowledge and founded the kingdom of Wisdom.  As the kingdom grew and grew, the prince, now a King, had two sons who  went off and founded two large cities.  Azaz the Unabridged went South the the Foothills of Confusion and built Dictionopolis, the city of words.  His brother, the Mathemagician, went north to the Mountains of Ignorance and bult Digitopolis, the city of numbers.  The two brothers were jealous of one another and fought constantly.  The King, ignorant of this, was happy with both his sons, he had one regret: he did not have a daughter.  One day, on a walk, he discovered a basket containing two baby girls.  Overjoyed, he adopted the girls, naming them Rhyme and Reason.  When  the King finally died, Azaz and the Mathemagician provided for the girls, who had the ability to settle arguments fairly and reasonably.  Eventually the two brotherly kings had a terrible quarrel over which was more important, words or numbers.  Rhyme and Reason carefully listened to both arguments and decided that words and numbers were equally important.  Each of the brothers were angry that the quarrel had not been settled in their favor and they banished Rhyme and Reason from the kingdom.  Since that time, things got much worse, because Wisdom without Rhyme nor Reason is just not workable.

Somehow, Milo and Tock -- along with a boisterous insect known as the Humbug -- were charged with going to the Castle in the Air to rescue Rhyme and Reason.  To do so, they had to journey across many strange lands, including the Island of Conclusions (which you reached by jumping) and the dreaded Mountains of Ignorance (with its many demons -- including a demon of petty tasks and worthless jobs, and a Senses Taker)...

As with any classic juvenile story, The Phantom Tollbotth is a roadmap to adulthood, where the journey and not the destination, is the purpose.  And, as with any classic juvenile story, it is aimed at adults as much as it is with children.  The book is laden with puns, paradoxes, and logical impossibilities -- so much so that I wondered at times if much of the book was beyond the reach of its young readers.  Then I realized (silly me!) that was a foolish thought, since kids are often much smarter than adults.

In 1996, Maurice Sendak wrote an appreciation of the book that rings even truer today than it did 27 years ago:  The Phantom Tollbooth is "prophetic and scarily pertinent to late-nineties urban living.  The book treats, in fantastical terms, the dread problems of excessive specialization, lack of communication, conformity, cupidity, and all the alarming ills of our time.  Things have gone from bad to worse to ugly.  The dumbing down of America is proceding apace.  Juster's allegorical monsters have become all too real.  The Demons of Ignorance, the Gross Exageration (whose wicked teeth were made 'only to mangle the truth'), and the shabby Threadbare Excuse are inside the walls of the Kingdom of Wisdom, while the Gorgons of Hate and Malice, the Overbearing Know-It-All, and most especially the Triple Demons of Compromise are already established in high office all over the world.  The fair princesses, Rhyme and Reason, have obviously been banished yet again.  We need Milo!"

Indeed we do.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023


 Larry Haines (who played Stu Bergman on Search for Tomorrow for 2670 episodes from 1951 to 1986, and was former first lady Pat Nixon's favorite soap opera star) was the first to portray Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer on the radio.  That Hammer Guy ran on the Mutual/Don Lee Network from 1952 to 1954.  Both George Petrie and Ted DeCorsia would play Hammer later in the show's run.  Jan Miner (Madge the manicurist in the Palmolive ads) played Velda, as well as most of the female roles.  It appears that most of the episodes are now lost to time; I could only find sixteen, more or less split between Haines and DeCorsia as Hammer; I could not find any Petrie apisodes.

That Hammer Guy was originally slated for CBS, which evidently recorded a pilot.  Then NBC took over and had planned to have Spillane himself narrate the show, with Richard Lewis as producer and director.  It eventually ended up on Mutual, with Lewis still on board.  

Spillane did not write for the show; that was left to Ed Adamson, who did a good job capturing Spillane's tone.  I believe Ed Ladd was the announcer on this episode.

In this episode, Hammer is followed by a man named Peter Morrison, who says he needs protection from a man who is trying to kill him.  Hammer recognizes the man Morrison points out as a plain clothes detective.  Then Morrison disappears.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023


 "Cloonaturk" by Mervyn Wall (firxt published in Argosy [UK], December 1947; reprinted in Wall's collections A Flutter of Wings (1974) and The Demon Angler & One Other (2015), in Weird Tales, Winter 1989/1990, and in Shadow Voices:  300 Years of Irish Genre Fiction:  A History in Stories, edited by John Connolly, 2021)

You're not likely to find Cloonaturk on any Irish map.  It's just thirty scattered cottages on a lonely Irish coast, inhabited by dour men who prefer to be left alone.  There are no women in Cloonaturk, no children.  (There's a rumor there once was, but that they've all gone to America.)  Since the sixteenth century, the men of the village have sustained themselved on a diet of poteen and potatoes.  And, since the sixteenth century, the men of /Cloonaturk have frustrated the police and the excise officers by having successfully hidden their stills.

One day, Pat's Tommy heard the postman approach his cottage.  Upon the knock on the door, Pat's Tommy immediately barricaded the door with a table, and was about to add a dresser to the barricade when the postmen walked away.  But Pat's Tommy had been outwitted:  the postman had slid a long envelope under the door.  Pat's Tommy stared at the envelope for a day. then picked it up and placed it -- unopened -- on the dresser.  After considering things for some four days, Pat's Tommy took the unopened envelope and tossed it onto the peat fire.

And all was well for about a week, then another envelope was slid under his door.  This, too, went into the fire, unopened.  When the third envelope came, it was stamped "Final Notice."  Pat's Tommy considered this throughout the night (and throughout a bottle of poteen, and halfway through another one); then he opened the envelope.  It was a demand for seven shillings and sixpence for a Dog License.  So Pat's Tommy hung himself. ( Of course, he finished the second bottle of poteen first.)

(You have to understand that, when any of the men of Cloonaturk received such a notice, they would automatically hang their dog.  But since Pat's Tommy was really fond of his dog, there was nothing other to do than to hang himself.

Since the men of Cloonaturk often stayed away from their fellow villagers for a week or so at a timje, no realized that Pat' Tommy was dead for days.  They did what wqs expected. They had a wake.  A powerful wake.  Then they trudged the five miles to the nearest church and buried Pat's Tommy.  Then they continued with the wake for another four days.  Around the fourth day, Long John Flaherty accidently was locked out of the wake and, tripping, slide a dozen or feet in the mud.  So it was time to go home.  On the way he met Pat's Tommy and the two eschanged greetings.  When he got home, he realized that Pat's Tommy was supposed to be dead.

Dead or not, Pat's Tommy began to haunt the village.  At first it was all friendly like, with Pat's Tommy sharing the villagers' poteen.  After a while, though, Pat's Tommy became rather nasty -- entering a house uninvited and knocking a drink out of one's hand, grabbing Long John by the throat and trying to toss him in the river, and hiding the villagers' store of liquor.  The last was the final straw.  The villagers went to the local priest and told him what was happenig, asking for his help.  Father Murphy's solution was for the entire village to sign a temperance pledge.  (He really did not believe the villgarers' story, you see.)  The villagers said, thanks, but we'd rather live with Pat's Tommy's ghost.

 But Father Murphy was not done.  It was his duty to eradicate sin.  He went ot he authorities and demanded something be done.  Soon, hundreds of officers descended upon the village with shovels and dug into every square inch of the village, discovering and destroyng every still.  With the stills gone and no poteen to be had, Pat's Tommy soon faded away.

Mervyn Wall 91908-1997) was the author of one of the greatest humourous fantasie of the twentieth century, The Unfortunate Fursey, about a hapless medieval monlk who botched a rite of exorcism due to a speech impediment..  One ritic stated that it had a strong claim  to to being the single gretaest work of Irish genre literature produced in th twentieth century.  A squel, The Returnof Fursey, published to yers later was not as successful.   "Cloonaturk," although not as polished as The Unfortunate Fursey, is a great example of Wall's satirical touch and his dry wit.

The Winter 1989/1990 issue of Weird Tales is availbel at Internet Archive.

Monday, March 27, 2023


 Nick and Nora meet their most famous guest star of the series -- Forbidden Planet's Robbie the Roboi!

Based on the Dashiell Hammett characters, The Thion Man ran for two seasons on NBC from September 20, 1957 through August 28, 1959 for 72 episodes.  Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk star.  (Asta was played by three different wirehair terriers.)  Also featured are Barry Atwater, Robert Cornthwaite, Lillian Bronson, and George Cisar.  Directed by Oscar Rudolph from a script by Devery Freeman.

Robbie the Robot has his (its?) own listing on IMDb with 29 credits, from his (its?) debut in 1956's The Forbidden Planet to an "uncredited role" in The Big Bang Theory in 2014.  Not a bad career for a hunk of tin.  Robby was first designed by Robert Kinoshita, and cost $125,000 to build in 1955.


Saturday, March 25, 2023


Today would have made it 53 years.

One of our favorite performers was the folk-singer Tommy Makem.  He would often tell of the time he immigrated to the United States.  After being interviewed by the immigration officer, he was welcomed to the country and the officer looked at him directly and said, "Have a great life."  In telling the story, Makem would then add, "I took him at his word."

That phrase has always been a powerful one for us.  "Have a great life."  Not, "Have a good week," or "Have a fantastic holiday," but a great life.  There's a weight and a sincerity to it that goes far beyond the banality of "Have a good day," or whatever.  It's a phrase that may be best used to someone you don't really expect to see in the near future.  Whenever I have told someone to have a great life (and I find myself doing it more and more), they appear taken aback, perhaps a bit shocked, then they smile and go on, a bit happier and, perhaps, a bit more fulfilled, perhaps knowing that someone else is on their side.

For 52 years, 5 months, and 11 days, I have had a great life,  And because of Kitty's love and strong belief in me stay with me, I continue to have a great life.  That's the miracle I live with every day.

Even though she's gone, I am celebrating 53 years with Kitty today.

And I know that somewhere she's joining me in wishing all of you a great life.

Friday, March 24, 2023

DO-DO #1 (1950)

 The name is spelled in all caps -- DO-DO.  (Other character's names in the comic are not.)   I'm sure the name is pronounced Dodo, but my mind keeps saying doo-doo. as in "don't step in the..."

Anyway, this is a funny animal comic book.  Not only that, it's a funny circus animal comic book.  From the inside front cover:  "Introducing DO-DO and his circus friends!!   America's newest and funniest animal characters in comics.  So laugh with DO-DO and his friend Dolly, the circus queen, Roly and Poly, the mischievous bear twins, DO-DO's rival Hotspot, the leopard who gives DO-DO some competition.  You have Maggie the circus mother and also Slim the thinnest giraffe in the world, and besides Brawno the strongest lion of the circus.  You'll love all these characters so read on through the thrills, chills, and spills of their hilarous adventures!!"  Please note that while the sentence strucure, use of punctuation, and spelling may be atrocious, it most likely did not matter to the nboo's targeted audience of (I assume) four-year-olds.

What else can I say?  DO-DO (please don't step in it) is a dog and a clown and the star of the circus.  Dolly is also a dog, but more of the Dolly Dimples type.  Roly and Poly may be proto-Ewoks, but they have some of the funniest lines -- although "funny" may be a relative term.  Hotspot is always out to do dirt to DO-D0 and he is abetted by Slim.  Maggie is an elephant and Brawno will offer $100 to anyone who can stay in the wrestling ring with him for three minutes.  There are a number of other characters in the circus but they really don't do anything to advance whatever may pass for a plot.

DO-DO was a bargain.  Only 5 cents!  (Although a house ad on the inside back cover shows the price at 10 cents.)  The cheaper price may have been dure to the size of the comic book, just 5 by 7.5 inches.

DO-DO was frawn by Frank Carin (born Frank Carino), whose comic book work included Nellie the Nurse, Mighty Mouse, Georgie, Freddie the Snowman, Little Jack Frost, Merry Mouse, Peter Rabbit, Space Mouse, and Lucky Star, Western Cowboy Fun-Comics.

In 1950 I would have beeen just about the age of the target audience for DO-DO.  Luckily, I never ran across an issue.

Thursday, March 23, 2023


 A Streak of Light by Richard Lockridge (1976)

Richard Lockridge (1898-1982) and his wife Frances (1896-1962) are best remembered for their long series of detective novels featuring Mr. and Mrs. North; that series ended with 1964's Murder by the Book.  (Before their detecting adventures began, the Norths were created by Richard for a series of popular humorous sketches in The New Yorker.)   The Lockridges also penned a series of sixteen novels about Inspector Merton Heinrich of the New York State Police; following Frances's death, Richard continued with eight further books about the character.  (Richard later married writer Hildegarde Dolson, although I do not believe they ever collaborated on a novel.)  The Lockridges also created the character of police Captain Bill Wiegand, a close friend of Pam and Jerry North, and who is featured in at least one solo novel.   One of Wiegand's underlings is Lieutenant Nathan Shapiro, featured in at least thrre books by the Lockridges, and in eight solo novels by Richard. including one in which he teams up with Mertoin Heinrich.  Shapiro is the detective in A Streak of Light.

Shapiro is an easy-going, rather plain-looking man, deeply in love with his wife, a high school prinicpal who had just days before the action in this book began had earned her doctorate.  Shapiro appears to be a plodder, one who is not totally convinced of his abilities as a detective, despite the opinios of Wiegand and of Shapiro's assistant Detective Tony Cook.   But Shapiro will stick stubbonly to a case until everything makes sense.  Shapiro has a strong sense of duty and of justice.  In this case, the fact that he is a Jew does not make is any easier when investigating a nest of rabid right-wing bigots.  One of the victims may have been an unpleasant racist blanketyblank, but that cannot detract from or hinder Shapiro's efforts to solve the murders.

The first victim was Roger Claye, a nationally syndicated columnist and admitted John Bircher, who had been shot in his office at the Sentinel newspaper.  Claye had made a career of baiting "leftists," which earned him the approval of Russel Perryman, the owner and publisher of the newspaper.  If Claye was a rabid right-winger, Perryman made him look like an altar boy.  Perrymen went so far as to order Associated Press articles expurgated of anything that had what he imagined was a leftist bias; truth took a back seat in Perryman's paper.  The managing editor of the paper, Leroy Sampson was also a bad person -- a deeply bigoted Alabaman who ruled the editorial side of the paper with a cruel streak.  All three, as well as Craye's wife and Sampson's wife, were part of an elitist regime which brooked no dissent and offered no quarter.  (And, yes, there is a clear liberal bias throughout the novel but it does not affect the quality of the writing or the plot.)

Shortly after Craye's murder, publisher Perryman was shot in his private elevator.  Shapiro found the wounded man and gave first aid until an ambulance could arrive and take the comatose victim to the hospital, where he lingered between life and death for several days.  Then a mysterious figure took a shot at Sampson in the men's room. missing him and wounding a urinal, making the urinal the most likable victim in the book.  Sampson did not get off so easily, however -- later his body was found on a park bench, shot in the heart.

What was behind the assaults?  Was it, as much of the top brass on the newspaper insisted, a flare-up of violence from the "radical left"?  Could Cray's widow -- young, dry-eyed, and seemingly unaffected by her husband's murder, have anything to do with it?  She had been seen in the company of a successful playwright whom Craye had attacked in print, and who had been a staff member on the Sentinel just years before.  Or could the young "leftist" son of Perryman been involved?  He stood to inherit everything if his father died, and he was known to stronly disagree with everything his father did?  Or could it be an unknown member of the Sentinel staff, many of whom had put up with years of abuse and belittlement?

Shapiro must make sense of this tangled mess before more persons are hurt.  This he does with quiet humility and a deep sense of sympathy (I'm tempted to say grace).  Nathan Shapiro is an engaging and nteresting character who is forced to put aside his liberal tendancies to see justice done, no matter how painful it might be.

I want to read more books about this character.  

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


 Jack Mather and Harry Lang play Cisco and Pancho in this old-time radio episode.  The Cisco Kid  ran on radio from 1942 until 1956, with Mather and Lang starring in some 600 episodes beginning in 1947.

The Robin Hood of the Old West has always been a favorite of mine, whether on radio or on television.

Here Cisco takes on a group of stage robbers before riding off into the sunset.

"Oh, Pancho!"  "Oh, Cisco!"



"The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly" by Rosa Mulholland (first published in All Year Round, November 1866; reprinted in Mullholland's collection The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly and Other Stories, 1891; reprinted many times)

There was a raging thunderstorm in the village of Hurly Burly and Mistress Hurley was frightened, thinking she may have heard something other than thunder.  The squire chides her because that particular sound had not been heard for months.  The sound is that of the great organ at the manor.  What they can discern over the sounds of thunder, however, is the wheels of an approaching carriage.  The carriage brings a young, waif-like woman, just eighteen, who says she is expected --but if so, not by the squire or his wife.  The girl has travelled from Italy, where she had been making a meager living teaching music.  The girl (a bit simple-minded, I fear) was named Lisa; she told the couple that their son had asked her to marry him, and then charged her to travel to his parents' home in England and play the organ there:  "You must play all day, and you must get up in the night and play.  You must never tire.  You are my betrothed and you have sworn to do my work."  An astounding confession, all the more so since their son Lewis had been dead for twenty years,

Lewis, handsome and popular and spoiled by his parents, had fallen into "evil ways," becoming "more and more abandoned to wickedness."  Once, during a very solemn funeral service, the young man and his cronies had snuck into the church and Lewis began playing a racous (and certainly inappropriate) drinking song on the organ while his fellow roisterers sang as loudly as possible.  The father of the dead went to the alter and cursed Lewis to Hell for all eternity, and cursed the organ that it may never be played again except by Lewis's fingers, until they "stiffened in death."  Lewis, ever cocky, had the organ removed from the church and brought to his father's house, where it sat until one day Lewis began to play it.  Over time, Lewis played the organ more and nmre, locking himself in with the organ.  It soon became apparent that he was a slave to the instrument:  he would physically try to force his hands away from the keyboard to more avail -- some supernatural force was complelling him to continue playing.  Lewis would play day and night, forsaking food and rest, until one day he was found dead on the ground in front of the organ.  Since that time, the sound of the organ could be heard throughout the manjor until it has stopped just recently.  All this was explained to Lisa, who just said that the signor had told her play and that she would play.

She sat down and began to play.  And play.  At night, she would go from her room to the organ to play.  The Hurleys moved her to a neighboring friend's house, but she would sneak and return to the manor to play the organ.  Finally, the squire had some local stonemasons block up the room with the organ.  But soon the sound of the organ would come from the sealed room.  After three days, the squire had the stonemasons open the room once more and there, at the foot or the organ, was little Lisa, dead.

The Hurlys moved to France and never returned to the village.  The house was abandoned for years but had lately been bought.  The organ had been removed and banished.  The room where the organ had been was transformed to an elegant bedroom, but no one ever slept in it twice.

Rosa Mulholland (1841-1921), born in Belfast, was a Protestant and a Unionist.  As writer, she produced novels for both adults and young women, as well as many poems and short stories, a number of them ghost stories.  The ghost story as a literary form was a fairly recent invention and had only begun to take shape with the writing of Sir Walter Scott, beginning in 1824.  It was often felt that the ghost story was best served in the form of a short story, and Charles Dickens (who admired Mulholland's wiring) promoted the form both as a writer and editor.  In her stories Mulholland would balance her Protestantism with her Irish roots, often writing about issues concerning land and property.  Shje had a distinct love for the land and people of Ireland and would often include strong female Catholics in her stories.  Trained as an artist, Mulholland had one of the largest libraries in Ireland when she died.

"The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly" is an effective tale made all the more poignant by the doomed character of Lisa and by the unrelenting force of the supernatural.  It is an early -- and worthy -- example of the ghost story as a literary genre.  You may wonder, if only Lewis's fingers were ever to play the organ according to the curse, how Lisa was was able to play the instrument.  Although not specifically explained, this could well have been the first story of hands haunted by a supernatural force.

The Haunted Organist of Hurly Burly and Other Ghost Stories is availabnle to read online.  Or, if you prefer, a recording of the short story is availabel at LibriVox.

Monday, March 20, 2023


 One of myt favrite television anthology series from when I was a kid was Boris Karloff's Thriller.  the show seemed to hit it out of the park every week, whereas shows such as The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, or the various Alfred Hitchcock incarnations always seemed to have a few clunkers.  One of the reasons why I liked Thriller so much was writer Robert Bloch -- a full nine episodes were based on his short stories, six of them were also adapted by him; a tenth episode was scripted by Bloch based ona tale by Weird Tales regular Harold Lawlor.

Bloch adapted his 1950 Weird Tales story "The Weird Tailor" twice.  First for this episode of Thriller, then as one of four episodes adapted for the 1972 film Asylum.  The television version stars Henry Jones, George Macready, Abraham Sofaer, Stanl;ey Adams, Sondra Blake (as "Sondra Kerr"),Iphigenie Castiglioni, and Gary Clarke.  Herschel Daugherty directed.

Macready plays a scholar who inadvertently kills his son during a mystic ritual.  Desperate to bring his child back, he resorts to black magic, using a suit of unearthly materials.  He hires a tailor (Jones) to make the suit, unaware that the tailor's abused wife has other ideas.

Enjoy this classic episode, which follows after a brief introduction.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


Openers:  There are many who recall full well the rush ar Chinaman's Flat.  It was in the height of its prosperity that an assault was comitted upon a female of a character so diabolical in itself, as to have aroused the utmost anxiety in the public as well as in the police, to punish the perpetrator thereof.

The case was placed in my hands, and as it presented difficulties so great as to appear to an ordinary observer, almost insurmountable, the overcomoijng of which was likely to gain approbation in the proper quarter, I gladly accepted the risk.

I had little to go upon at first.  One dark night, in a tent in the very centre of a crowded throughfare, a female had been preparing to retire to rest, her husband being in the habit of remaining at the public-house until a late hour, when a man in a crepe mask -- who must have gained an earlier entrance -- seized her, and in the prosecution of a criminal offense, had injured and abused the unfortunate woman so much that her life was despaired of.  Although there was a light burning at the time, the woman was barely able to describe his general appearance; he appeared to her like a German, had no whiskers, fair hari, was low in stature, and stoutly built.

-- "Traces of Crime" by "W. W." ["Waif Wander"] (Mary Helena Fortune) (first published as "Memoirs of an Australian Plice Officer, No. IV:  Traces of Crime," from The Australian Journal:  A Weekly Record of  Amusing and Instructive Literature, Science and the Arts, December 2, 1865; reprinted in Shadow Voices:  300 Years of Irish Genre Fiction:  A History in Stories, edited by John Connolly, 2021)

In this early example of the police crime story, our unnamed Australian police officer latches onto the a singular clue that might bring about the arrest of the man guilty of a brutal rape:  the tattoo of a small anchoe and heart on the criminal's upper arm.   Athough many people in Australia were tattooed, few had that specific one.  After several weeks of investigation, our police officer settled on the mot likely person to have committed the crime -- a man working in a digging some seven miles from where the rape had occurred.  One fly in the pinment remained; it was uncertain whether the man had the distinctive tattoo on his arm since the tattoo would normally be hidden by a shirt sleeve.  Our police officer goes undercover to the mine digging and befriends his suspect and soon is working side by side with him.  After more than a week, however, the man had not removed his shirt.  Does he have the tattoo or not?  Sneaking up to the man's tent one night and surreptitiously cutting a small opening in the rear of the tent to observe the man's actions, he is surprised to see his suspect carefully cutting a boot into small pieces and eventually throwing those pieces in a fire to destroy them.  Our police officer is able to retrieve the boot pieces and join them together to form a distinct sole pattern.  What to make of that?  Later, a body has been discovered nearby.  Near the corpse is a piece of a shattered button, which appears to match a shirt button the suspect has.  A print in the mud appears to match the recovered boot sole the suspect had tried to destroy.  The dead man's widow stated that someone had tried to become familiar with her, not realizing that she was amrried, but continued his pursuit even after he found she was married; he husband had chased the man off and threatened him.  The suspect is arrested for the murder.  He also has the tell-tale tattoo.  He had believed that he had successfully hidden the body of the murdered man in a water hole and di not realize that his victim had enough life left in him to crawl out of the hole enough for his body to be found.  Being superstitious (as so many criminals are), he felt that the discover of the body was divine retribution and he promptly confessed to the murder, the rape, and a goodly number of other atrocities,  He was tried and quickly hung.

A couple of things of interest here.  The Australian Journal was the first periodical in the country to target a mostly female readership.  Then, as now, stories of crime held a great fascination for female readers.  The crime of rape was never mention in this story and was only obliquely referred to -- indicating the social sensitivites of the time as well as those of the females reading the tale (although many, I'm sure, knew full well what the "heinous crime" was).  The "Memoirs of an Australian Police Officer" was a popular on-going series in the magazine.  It had been initiated by a writer named James Skipp Borlase, who was fired for plagerism, and the series was then continued by Mary Helena Fortune under her "W.W." or her "Waif Wander" pseudonyms.  Police procedural work and, indeed, a true detective element, are absent here; what is important to the readership  is that a crime has been solved, the perpetrator punished, and justice served.  Note also that this was early days -- the concept of a female writer of crime stories was basically unfamiliar, although Carolyn Clive wrote what has been considered the first such story a decade earlier, and Harriet Spofford's crime stories began about the same time as Fortune's; "Seeley Register's" The Dead Letter appeared soon after Fortune's first crime story.

Not much is known about Mary Helena Fortune.  She was born in Belfast and was about twenty years old when she and her father moved to Canada.  She married Joseph Fortune, had a son by him, then moved to Australia with her father and her son, leaving her husband behind.  A second son was born in Australia and Mary claimed Fortune to be the father, although that was impossible.  She eventually married a policeman but that marriage soon ended.  It is unknown whether she ever divorced either husband.  She began writing short stories and poetry under pseudonymns -- one of the few "respected" ways a woman could earn money at the time.  Her writing was good enough to bring an offer for a sub-editorship at an Australian magazine, but the offer was rescinded when it was found that she was -- gasp! -- a female.  She evidently was an alcoholic; police reports noted that she had been jailed several times for drunkeness.  Her surviving son (her eldest died of meningitis when very young) was a career criminal and had been jailed for bank robbery and safe cracking.  She stopped writing when her eysight began to fail and she was buried in a grave originally intended for another.  Her role as one of the pioneers of the detective story was unknown until 1950, when it was discovered that she had written the "W.W." stories.  (The above information comes from John Connolly's fascinating introduction to  "Traces of Crime" in Shadow Voices -- an anthology recommended without reservation.  Fortune having spent her first two decades in Ireland was enough to justify her inclusiuon in the book.)


  • Colin Cotterill, Six-and-a-Half Deadly Sins.  A Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery.  "On 25 December 1978, the concrete public address system pole in South That Luang's area 6 unexpectedly blew itself up, a Lao sin with a severed finger sewn into the hem passes through the national postal system unchallenged and Vietnam invaded Cambodia...A couple of weeks on, China invades Vietnam and, but for the cunning of Siri and Civilai would have passed through Laos to do it.  The finger in the sin and the aborted invasion of Laos are intrinsically woven together as the oldies find themselves together again in the far north of Laos, following clue after clue and uncovering even more nasty goings on."  This is a 2015 paperback published and printed in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos -- "All royalties from the sale of this book remain in Laos at the wish of the author and publisher.  Money raised from these books will be used to produce books in Lao through Big Brother Mouse and to promote Lao literacy among Lao.'
  • Gordon R. Dickson, Time to Teleport and Delusion World.  Omnibus of two science fiction novels.  In Teleport: "The world was quiet -- and that was bad...for it was the quiet not of peace but of stagnation.  Strife was ended but so was progress, growth, human striving -- except in the hidden laboratories and redoubts of the underground Members of Humanity.  They dared to look ahead; they dared to try and struggle and move forward.  And unless Eli Johnstone, Spokesman for the Automonous Goup that runs the world, can come come to grips with their unflinching dedication to the future, they could just be the spark to blow a planet apart..."  In Delusion:  "There had to be a reason why that isolated human colony had been able to survive mankind's implacable enemies.  But nobody had been able to get to the quaintly named Dunroamin to find out.  If they had a secret defense, it could be the answer to a hundred planets' prayers.  And Feliz Gebrod realized as he came in for a crash landing that he'd know the secret sooner than he'd expected.  Except that what he encountered was a life-or-death riddle that had nothing to do with stellar defense.  It was this:  how can two mutually irreconcilable Utopias occupy the same place at the same time?"  Early Dickson novels from 1960 and 1961, based on stories originally published in 1955.
  • "Jack Kilborn" (J. A. Kornrath), Afraid.  Thriller/horror novel.  "Welsome to Safe Haven, Wisconson.  Miles from everything, one road in and out, this peaceful town has never needed a full-time police force.  Until now...A helicopter has crashed near Safe Haven and unleashed something horrifying.  Now this merciless force is about to do what it does best.  Isolate.  Terrorize. Annilhilate.  As residents begin dying in a storm of gory violence, Safe Haven's only chance for survival will rest on an aging county sheriff, a firefighter, and a single mom.  And each will have this harrowing thought:  Maybe death hasn't come to their town by accident..."  Kornrath, a self-publishing and self-promotion guru, is the author of the Jack Daniels mystery series, as well as a number of horror and thriller novels.  Although he sometimes aims for the cheap seats, his books are unflaggingly entertaining.
  • Robert W. Walker, Blind Instinct.  A Jessica Coran thriller.  "FBI Medical Examiner Dr. Jessica Coran and Inspector Richard Sharpe have been enlisted to spearhead the investigation of a series of crucifixion murders -- a bizarre rash of ritual killings in London's underground.  The madman has left a trail of carnage unequalled in the history of serial crime.  But he has also left no clues to his identity, or to his unfathomable motive.  It begins as a terrifying challenge for Coran and Sharpe.  What it becomes is an invitation to enter the deep abyss of a killer's mind, a chilling dare that will draw them closer than ever to the nature of evil and the rapture of death at the dawn of a new millennium."  Walker has published  over seventy books, mainly thrillers, horror, and mysteries -- sixteen of them in the Jessica Coran "Instinct" series.

The Redman's View:  Here's a short, fifteeen-minute film directed by D. W. Griffith in 1909. that sympathically depicts the plight of the American Indian.  To my mind, it's hard to reconcile this with Griffth's later overtly racist Birth of a Nation.

Le Juif Errant:  Let's go seven years to 1902.  Here's an interesting take on "The Wandering Jew" by the pioneering filmmaker George Melies.  Melies himself plays the title role.  An interesting bit of film history.

Uncle Tom's Legacy:  171 years ago today, Harriet Beecher Stowes novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, the book that "started the Civil War," was first published.  The book did not start the Civil War, but it did much to promote the Abolitionist cause in the1850s and, by helping cement feelings about African Americans and slavery throughout the country, "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War."  The overly sentimental work was a screed against slavery and posited that Christian love could overcome its evil.  It became the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book after the Bible.

As with any controversial book it had its critics, including philkosophical ones whose supported slavery and literary ones who deplored the novel's simplistic sentimentality.  One literary critic at the time dismissed its "women's sloppy emotions," while another called it "primarioly a derivative piece of hackwork."  And it had its champions, often ordinary people who were swept up in the dramatic tale, and those impressed with its value ass an effective antislavery tool.  One reader stated that she considered renaming her daughter Eva, and in 1852, 300 baby girls were named Eva in Boston alone.  Charles Dickens wrote to Stowe:  "I have read your book with the deepest interst and sympathy, and admire, more than I can express to you, both the generous feeling which inspired it, and the admirable power with which it is executed."  Historian Thomas MacCauley said that iIt is the moist valuable addition that America has made to English literature."

The novel has produced some negative stereotypes.  "Uncle Tom" is now a perjorative, although the character was orignally conceived as a Christ-like character, forgiving his tormentors.  The carefree character of Sam has come to epitomize the "happy darky," while light-skinned mullatto women bring about asscoaitions with sex objects.  There are several characters to fit the dark-skinned "Mammy" role, and Topsy has come to represent Black children as sterotypical "pickaninnies."   Most of these characterizations are modern interpretations on behalf of a few and ignore the basic intent of the novel.

I don't know if there are many today who have actually read Uncle Tom's Cabin (personal confession:  I tried to many years ago and gave up), just that I doubt there are many who have read other significant pieces of protest literature such as Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.  Nonetheless, Uncle Tom's Cabin remains a major part of our literary and historical past and should be remebered and respected as such. 

The 2000 Year Old Man:  Carl Reiner would have been 101 years old today.  Here he is with Mel Brooks in a sketch about The 2000 Year Old Man.  (Brokks, thankfully is still us and is working on The History of World Part 2.)

Vernal Equinox:  Today is the first day of Spring, good news for those who have been faced with terrible winter storms!  It is also Snowman Burning Day -- bad news for Frosty!

For those who have their priorities straight, it is also World Sparrow Day!  Let's celebrate:

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man and State Senator Blaise Ingoglia has introduced a bill that would ban the Democratic Party in Florida.  In part, the bill wouold cancel any political party whose "platform has previously advocated for. or been in support of, slavery or involuntary servitude."  The Florida Democratic Party had advocated for slavery prior to 1865 and, as such, would be the only political party in Florida that could be affected by the bill (or mso Ingoglia believes).  The Democratic Party has had a pesky history in the South and, following the Civil War, was the party of bigotry and racism in the South, because, after all, Lincoln was one of those Godless Republicans.  But political sands shift.  The Dixiecrats hey-day ended during the Civil Rights movement and most then-Democrats shifted their allegance to the Republican Party, just as many of the beliefs of Lincoln's Republican Party are now firmly held by today's Democrats.  Ingoglia is evidentlkyt unaware that a from of slavery or penal servitude is still enshrined in our Constitution regarding legally convicted felons, and I doubt he will try to claim Republicans (Florida Republicans, anyway) oppose the Constitution.  Add to this another proposed bill that would ban young girls from mentioning/discussing their periods in school.  And the Don't Say Gay Bill.  And the Stop Woke Act.  And the Register with the State If You Have Anything Bad to Say about State Politicians Fiasco.  And the Disagree with Me, Your Governor, and I'll Burn Your House Down and Kill Your Dog Act.  Wait.  That last one has not officially been proposed.   Yet.  I weep.
  • Sorry, but after that, anything stupid or dangerous done by ordinary Florida Men and Women seems just irrelevant this week.  So onto:

Good News:
  • CRISPR gene editing reverses permanent vision loss in mice, offering hope for retinits pigmentosa patients
  • Sisters put up for adoption at the end of World War II  finally reunited after 75 years
  • 93-year-old grandmother creates a 6-foot replica of Buckingham Palce out of wool -- and it's incredibly detailed
  • MIND and Mediterranean diets are associated with fewer Alzheimer's plaques and tngles
  • Refrigerator-sized data center transfer heat to English swimming pool, saving thousands in energy costs
  • 27-year-old Dutch man finds 1000 year old treasure using metal detector
  • Hero passerby scales building to rescue a toddler who fell out of a window onto a ledge
  • New tool can 3D bioprint inside the human body to create natural tissue-like structures

Today's Poem:
Our Singing Strength

It snowed in spring on earth so dry and warm
The flakes could find no landing place to form.

Hordes spent themselves to make it wet and cold
And still they failed of any lasting hold.

They made no white impressiojn on the black.

They disappeared as if earth had sent them back.

Not till from separate flakes they changed at night
To almost strips and tapes of ragged white
Did grass and garden confess it snowed,
And all go back to winter but the road.

Next day the scene was piled and puffed and dead.

The grass lay flattened under one great tread.

Born down until the end almost took root,
The rangey bough anticipated fruit
With snowball cupped in every opening bud.

The road alone maintained itself in mud,
Whatever its secret was of greater heat
From inward fires mor brush of passing feet.

In spring more mortal singers than belong
To any one place cover us with song.

Thrush, bluebird, blackbird, sparrow, and robin throng;
Some to go further north to Hudson's Bay,
Some that have come too far north back away,
Really a very few to build and stay.

Now was seen how these like belated snow.

the field had nowhere left for them to go;
They'd soon exhausted all there was in flying;
The tree they'd had enough of with once trying
And setting off their heavy powder load.

They could find nothing open but the road.

Sot there they let their lives be narrowed in
By thousands the bad weather made akin.

The road became a channel running flocks
Of glossy birds like ripples over rocks.

I drove them under foot in bits of flight
That kept the ground
almost disputing right
Of way with me from apathy of wing,
A talking twitter they all had to sing.

A few I must have driven to despair
Made quick asides, but having done in air
A whir among white branches great and small
As in some too much carven marble hall
Where one false wing beat would have brought down all,
Came tamely back in front of me, the Drover,
To suffer the same driven nightmare over.

One such storm in a lifetime couldn't teach them
That back behind pursuit it couldn't reach them;
None flew behind me to be left alone.

Well, something for a snowstorm to have shown
The country's singing strength thus brought together,
The thought repressed and moody with the weather
Was none the less there ready to be freed
And sing the wildflowers up from root to seed.

-- Robert Frost


 Ralph Stanley.

Friday, March 17, 2023


By the time Bob Steele Western made it to the comic books, the hey-day of Steele as a the western star was fading, but that certainly did not stop his young fans from buying the comic book.

Coming from a vaudeville family, Steele (born Robert Bradbury, Jr.) began appearing on stage at age 2.  By age 14, he and his twin brother were starring in a series of short films directed by their father, Bob Bradbury.  Steele later moved on to juvenile roles in many silent films.  His transition to talkies was smooth and he began appearing in a number of low-budget westerns from most of the Poverty Row film companies.  He originated the role of Billy the Kid (later to be taken over by Buster Crabbe) in .the series from PRC, was Tucson Smith in twenty films in Republic Pictures' Three Mesquiteers series, and then played a character named "Bob Steele" in Monogram's Trail Blazers western series with Ken Maynard and Hoot Gibson.  Steele later became a familiar face appearing on almost every western televsion show in the 1950s, including several recurring roles.  Steele is said to have inspired the "Cowboy Bob" character referenced in the Dennis the Menace comic strip.

The Bob Steele Western comic book appeared from Fawcett publications from 1950 to 1952 for ten issues.

Issue #1 features a three-part story, "Hangman's Bait," in which lawyer Ben Howland seeks Bob's help in proving a client innocent of robbing a stage.  With a crooked banker, a crooked gambler, and a crooked deputy all against him, does the roughest, toughest, fighting-est cowboy of them stand a chance?

To find out, just follow the link.

Thursday, March 16, 2023


Time to Teleport by Gordon R. Dickson (expanded from "No More Barriers," Science Fiction Stories, September 1955; first published as an Ace paperback double, bound with Dickson's The Genetic General, 1960; reprinted as an Ace paperback omnibus with Dickson's Delusion World, 1981; firsr separate publication [as an e-book], 2011; the original source story has not been reprinted)

After sectionalism threatened to end the human race, mankind took the extraordinary step to reorganize the race into Groups -- some 128 of them -- based not on national origin, regionalism, or political philosophies, but on careers.  Each group cut across territorial boundaries, and each was dependent in one way or another on the other groups.  Many of the larger, more powerful groups naturally subsumed smaller ones, leaving a dozen or so major Groups -- Transportation, Communications, Undersea Domes, and so on.  This type of organization brought about worldwide peace for eighty years.  But all things -- and all political systems -- must come to an end.  Mankind had boxed itself in:  eighty years of peace without external challenges has led to stagnation, with no meaningful scientific progress.

Eli Johnstone is the Spokesman for the Underseas Group and perhaps the most influential man on the planet.   Johnstone serves a buffer between Transportation Spokesman Anthony Sellars and his ambition to control the entire world.  Johnstone can see the usefulness of the Groups coming to an end, as well as the chaos that will bring.  He had never wanted to be thrust into a political role and has decided to resign to pursue a personal agenda.  This decision could well bring about the chaos much earlier than expected.

For the past few decades there has been a loose, fringe group forming, calling itself Members of Humanity.  This group advocates moving the human race ahead through evolutionary means, speeded by scientific experimentation.  Their basic tenet is that mankind has latent psychic powers that must be developed.  One of the leaders of Members of Humanity is Eli Johnstone's unacknowledged half-brother.  Although not common knowledge, the Members of Humanity have proven that psychic powers exist, but have thus far been unable to control them.

Johnstone meanwhile is undergoing a top secret experimental procedure that may bring about virtual immortality -- the replacement of all bodily organs with synthetically grown ones.  While Johnstone is undergoing these operations, Sellars makes his move, inciting the Groups to move violently against Members of Humanity, executing many.  Sellars has also ordered the execution of Johnstone and the unknown assassin is a trusted member of Johnstone's medical team. 

An ambitous and somewhat muddled tale with a flawed premise, Time to Teleport was an early novel by the prolific Gordon R. Dickson (1923-2001).  (Today the novel would be better classified as a novella.)  Dickson went on to win three Hugo Awards and one Nebula Award and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2000.  He also won the August Derleth Award from the British Fantasy Society for his novel The Dragon and the George.  His best-known works may be the Childe Series (also known as the Dorsai series -- a philosophiocal military future history), the Dragon series of nine fantasy novels, and the Hoka series of humorous tales written with his friend Poul Anderson.   His books cover a wide variety of science fictional and fantasy themes and styles and are eminently readable.  Time to Teleport is also a readable tale, but is slight compared to much of his later work. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


Yestrerday I posted an "unknown" Perry Mason mystery story based on episodes of the CBS Radio program about Erle Stanley Gardner's famous fictional attorney.  I though I'd follow up with a random episode from that series.

Be aware that this is just one episode, not the full mystery, but there's enough here to give you a feel for the show, as the groundwork is laid for an upcoming murder and as Perry seeks to understand the strange motivation behind his wealthy client.   I have no idea how this story spun out, nor do I know the conclusion.  I haven't bothered to try to date this episode.

Perry Mason was a fifteen-minute daily radio program and probably a third of that time was taken with commercials for Ivory Flakes and Camay soap.  Yes, the radio show was a soap opera in every sense of the word, quite different from Gardner's novels or the Raymond Burr television show.  As I mentioned yesterday, circumstances morphed this radio program into the long-running television soap The Edge of Night.

Anyway, here's a little taste of radio's Perry Mason:

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


"The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts" by Della Street (from Radio and Television Mirror, May 1950) 

Everybody's favorite criminal defense attorney, Perry Mason, aird as a fifteen-minute daily radio show on CBS Radio from 1943 to 1955, ending after author Erle Stanley Gardner withdrew his support in favor of a daytime television serial that was to begin on CBS in 1956.  Gardner, however, also withdrew his support from the television show after producers insisted that Perry Mason be romantically involved with his secretary, Della Street.  The television show then aired, continuing on in spirit of Perry Mason,  with a new cast of characters and a new title:  The Edge of Night.

"The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts" appears to be based on the radio episodes "The Case of the Honeymoon Killers," which began airing on November 3, 1949, and was scripted by Irving Vendig.  Radio and Television Mirror was a fan magazine that began as Radio Mirror in 1939, eventually incorporated "Television" into its title and ran until 1971; over the years the title was tweaked so often that I doubt if the editors or the staff knew what the exact title of any given issue was.  One sectionm of the magazine -- at least in 1950 (I haven't checked other years) -- was a "Book Bonus," a fictional story often based on actual episodes of various radio or television programs.  That's where "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts"comes in.

The Perry Mason radio series was unlike the novels.  It was basically a soap opera and was geared to soap opera fans.  There was mystery and detection, but there was also the hint of romance, as well as occasional bits of action. such as Perry firing a gun.  The stories printed in Radio and Television Mirror were also geared to the "typical" soap opera fan.  To give you a taste, here's the first two paragraphs of "The Case of the Suspect Swethearts":

"Looking at Martha -- which the whole city was doing -- it was almost impossible to conceive that those soft, frightened dark eyes had ever blazed with murderous fury, or that those delicate fingers had once gripped a knife and plunged it deep, again and again, into the body of a man.  Looking at her husband, Don, as he sat quietly beside her in the courtroom, the very model of a serious-minded, undramatic young businessman, it was equally impossible to believe that he had helped her.

"Yet so the state prosecution contended.  And such is the power of the time District Attorney Noble was halfwat through his case, you couldn't believe they hadn't done it.  My boss Perry Mason knew they were innocent, and so did I -- partly because Perry never defended a client he thought was guilty, and partly because I was used to discounting the magic power of words, which could pull you this way or that way.  I had learned to look beyond them, and go by feel alone.  But the jury was something else again.  As Perry said, he could hardly go up to them and say 'Look here, friends.  You've got let these youngsters go.  My secretary Della Street knows instinctively that they're not guilty, and Della's instinct is never wrong.' "

It's interesting that this Perry Mason will only defned those he knows are innocent.  The Perry Mason of the books does not consider guilt or innocence; he is only interested in providing the best defence possible -- it is merely a coincidence that through 82 novels and three short stories was Mason's client guilty only once )and in that case Gardner was able to wiggle his way out of things and leave Mason with an unblemished record).

Also, in "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts," Della admits several times that she is in love with Mason -- and he with her!  Twice during the story, he calls her "Baggage" (in the sweetest way possible) and once, "Darling."

Every other Perry Mason novel or story is told in the third person.  This story is bylined "Della Street," and is told in Della's first person.  So, whoi is the "Della Street" who wrote this tale?  Wikipedia flat-out says it's Gardner, while the FictionMags site says it is a possible pen name for Gardner.  If it was actually written by Uncle Erle, I'd bet earnest money that a heavy-handed editor at the magazine rewrote the tale.  There is always the possibility that Irving Vendig, who wrote the radio episode, penned the story for the magazine.

No matter.  Here is a tale of two yound lovers caught in a treacherous trap of blackmail and murder and facing an ambitious district attorney who hopes to use the case to propel him to higher state office...and only Perry Mason can save them.

As far as I can tell, this story has never been reprinted.  The link takles you to the May 1950 issue of Radio and Television Mirror and "The Case of the Suspect Sweethearts."  Enjoy.


-- "The Case of the Supect Sweethearts" by Della Street (from Radio and Television Mirror, May 1950)

First of all here's a Perry Mason story that few have ever heard of, and the only one ever narrated by Della Street.  Behind the Della Stret pseudonym probably lies Erle Stanley Gardner -- at least that's what Wikipedia claims, or it could have been some staff writer for the magazine, although my money is on Gardner.

Sources differ considerably as to specific titles and dates, but roughly it goes like this:  Radio Mirror began publishing as a fan magazine in November 1933.  The title changed to Radio & Television Mirror in 1939, then to Radio Romances for part of 1945, then back to Radio Mirror until 1951, then sporadically to Radio Television Mirror, Radio TV Mirror, and Television Radio Mirror, and finally to Radio & TV Mirror in 1952.  The May 1950 issue cover title was Radio and Television Mirror with the word "Televsion" superimposed over a large "TV."  It really did not matter what the magazine called itself -- its reasder knew it and were ready by a copy no matter what variation the title might have.   The fan magazine ceased publication in 1977.

The May 1950 magazine carried articles about or by Dick Haines, Arthur Gadfrey, Fibber mcGee, Art Lilater, Ted Mack, and Farn Allison among others.  There were articles on the Radio and Television Awards for 1949, updates on popular programs, lots of pictures of radio and television personalities, as well as a number of innocuous features.  Each issue appears to have had a short story and ths one featured Perry Mason.


Monday, March 13, 2023


 For 3.14 Day, here's a comedy classic from Stan and Ollie with an epic pie-throwing battle!  (Take note of the guy in the second row on the right, second on the right during the ringside scene -- it's Lou Costello!)



Sunday, March 12, 2023

Saturday, March 11, 2023


 Dick Cole, top-notch cadet at Farr Military Academy, began his adventures in Novelty Press's Blue Bolt Comics #1 (June 1940), where he appeared in 100 consecutive issues.  The character was created by writer/artist Bob Davis.  Dick Cole lasted for five issues with Novelty Press, and then contionued for five additional issues with Star Publications, although these five issues were mainly reprints from Blue Bolt Comics and Novelty Press's 4 Most, after which it morphed into the Dick Cole-less Sports Thrills #11.  Dick Cole was a regular character in 4 Most from 1941-1948.

As an infant, Dick was left on the doorstep of Professor Blair of the Farr Military Academy.  Blair wanted to ensure the boy was raised to be a perfect speciment, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and he used his scientific principles to that end, including a specialized diet and occassional bouts of light radiology and other technical stuff.  Despite the radiation treatments, Dick is not a superhero, although he had remarkable healing powers.  As the series went on, the whole "scientifically-designed to be a perfect speciment" storyline was dropped and Dick became a normal teen-aged boy who happens to be super-good at all kinds of sports.  Most of Dick's adventures take place on the sporting fields, although he was quick to go against criminals and evil-doers.

Dick's best friend is Simba Karno, who, like Dick, had been raised "scientifically" to maximize his potentail.  Simba, however, was raised by the evil Dr. Karno to be...well, evil.  After clashing with Dick in Blue Bolt #13 (June 1941), Simba's innate goodness shone through and he and Dick became the best of buddies.

In 1942, Dick Cole was a syndicated half-hour radio program aimed at a juvenile audience and starring Leon Janney.  This may have been the same program whose fifty-two episodes were available for syndication during 1946-1947 as Adventures of Dick Cole at Farr Military Academy.

Although Dick Cole does not go against, Nazis, croked sports gamblers, or out-and-out racists in this issue, he does have his hands full in Dick Cole #1.  Also, in the introduction to this issue, we learn that Dick will never graduate from Farr because his readers want to continue reading stories about him at the academy.

Not everyone at Farr Military Academy loves Dick Cole.  In the first story, two jealous cadets -- Jed Jaxon and Slinky Black -- sneak into the offices of the academy's student newspaper,  The Farr Cry, and substitute a story about Dick that had been written for the next issue.  The story that ended up published -- instead of detailing Dick's hobbies -- falsely proclaimed his love for Trixie Dow, a dancer at the Silver Nook nightclub.  Dick's girlfriend Laura Bradly, gets angry and breaks up with Dick, leaving the way for Jed Jaxon to step in and date her.  Also jealous is Bongo Jones, the 300-pound wresler with a short fuse who happens to be dating Trixie Dow.  Things get a bit dicey when Dick is bound to a dunking stool and left to drown in a pond while a mad dog is about to attack Laura and Jed.  

In Dick's second adventure in this issue, chemistry professor Harvey Perkins has been acting stangely lately, but most assume it's just from nerves with his upcoming marriage to lovely Ann Peters the following week.  If that were only the case.  Perkins is being blackmailed by his twin brother Harry, a three-time looser looking at a possible life sentence.  Although Harry is a total ne'er-do-well, Perkins does not want to see him spend the rest of his life in prison.  But Ann has seen Harry puitting on the moves with the dancers at the Silver Nook and, thinking it is Harvey, breaks off the engagement.  Then Dick is comes upon a robbery of the Academy payroll at the school's administration building.  Wrestling the thief to the ground, Dick is shocked to see that it is Harvy Perkins!  (It isn't.  It's the twin brother, 'natch.)  The thief gets away but Harvey is soon arrested at his lodgings.  With the eye-witness testimony of such an unimpeachable character as Dick, Harvey is locked up.  Later, Dick and Simba see Harry carrying a valise in town.  Thinking Harvey must have escaped from jail, they go after him, chasing him into a the grounds of a nearby circus.  Desperate to escape, Harry climbs up the staging of a rollor coaster, figuring he could lay low in one of the cars at the top, but a searchlight happens to land on him and Dick and Simba begin climbing op after him.  A well-placed kick from Harry has Dick falling, Dick's only hope of surviving is a shallow tub of water that has been set on fire for a high-diving act.  Will he make it?  Will Dick be able to get Harvey out of jail?  Will Harvey and Ann be able to get married and live happliy ever after?  You guess is as good as mine.

Also in ths issue is an adventure of Sergeant Spook, the ghost of a police officer who helps young Jerry.  This time Jerry is in Egypt with archaeologist Dr. Digges, searhing for a cursed diamond at the tomb of an ancient Egyptian king.  Jerry is the only who can see or hear Sergeant Spook, who this time around introduces to Jerry to the pharaoh Rameses for help in deciphering an ancient placque.  Eventually, Jerry and Spook solve a secret code, stop a pair of jewel thieves, rescue Dr. Digges, and recover the diamond.

Halloween can be the spookiest season of the year and that's the case for farmer Riggs, whose place is being haunted by a headless horseman, frightening the farmer and his wife into selling their farm to rich realtor Calvin Chislett.  But Edison Bell smells a rat and he and his buddy Jerry (there's that name again, and it's such a noble name!) decide to investigate.  Ed and Jerry don phosphorescent skeleton costumes that Ed had prepared for a Halloween party and scare the bejeezus out of the bad guys,  In gratitude, Framer Riggs loads up a wagonful of pumpkins for Ed and Jerry to take to the party.

Take a gender:

Thursday, March 9, 2023


 Bad News by Donald E. Westlake  (2001)


That's it.  That's my entire review.  You really don't need anything else to impel (compel?  either word would fit) you to run out and read this book.

You can leave now.  Perhaps go someplace else on the internet and view cat videos.

Once you've said "Dortmunder," you've said it all.  I mean, every right-thinking person this side of Bobo-Dioulasso knows John Dortmunder as the hapless genius criminal mastermind in Donald E. Westlake's comic crime series, just as they know the other members of Dortmunder's criminal gang -- Andy Kelp, Tiny Bulcher, Stan Murch, and Murch's Mom.  No need to explain that this gang, following Dortmunder's finely-honed plans, typically pull off the most outrageous and daring robberies and/or thefts ever attempted, despite the fact that some sort of Cosmic Kismet invariably throws a monkey wrench into the works, often leaving the gang with less than nothing )or, at least, far less than they had planned).

And I certainly don't need to bother saying that everything starts when Dortmunder and Andy Kelp are hired by a rather skeezy pair of ginks to dig up a 70-year-old grave in upstate New York, remove the coffin, and replace it with a coffin from a 70-year-old grave recently dug up in California.  Or that this involves a multi-million dollar scam against a powerful Indian casino,  Or that once you begin digging up graves, you somehow have to keep digging graves and switching coffins until the police post guards around the graves so you can't do the most important grave switching of them all and you have to go through the state's worst snowstorm in decades just to steal some hair from a brush at an (also heavily-guarded) estate-slash-museum somewhat akin to Marjorie Merriweather Post's Hillwood.

I also don't have to point out that the book is funny as hell and completely unpredictable, or that few people were better plotters than Westlake.

Nope.  I don't have to do all that.  All I have to do is repeat my one-word review:



Wednesday, March 8, 2023


Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)  was a British author and politician.   Among his more noted novels were Pelham (1828), Paul Clifford (whose opening sentence famously began, "It was a dark and stormy night...";1930), Eugene Aram  (1832), The Last Days of Pompei (1834), Zanoni (1842), and The Coming Race *1871).  His most lasting work, perhaps, is his ghost story "The Haunters and the Hanuted; or, The House and the Brain" (Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, August 1859, originally uncredited); which has been reprinteded at least 150 times -- surprisingly, it was never reprinted during Bulwer-Lytton's lifetime.  H. P. Lovecraft called the story "one of the best short haunted-house tales ever written,"  and the L. W. Curry, Ltd. website calls it "perhaps the best haunted house story ever written."  His other legacies (besides the "dark and stormy night" quotation) lie in some of the popular phrases he coined:  "pursuit of the almighty dollar," "the pen is mightier than the sword," "dweller on the threshold," and "the great unwashed," among them.  His 1862 novel A Strange Story influenced Bram Stoker as he was writing Dracula.

The story was filmed at least once:  1948's The Ghost of Rashmon's Hall (also known  as Night Comes Too Soon), and at least twice for television in the anthology series High Tension (1953) and The Wide World of Mystery (1973).

And it made it to radio on CBS Radio MysteryTheater, in this episode featuring Gordon Heath, Richard Dryden, and Court Benson, with E. G. Marshall serving as your host.  CBS Radio Mystery Theater was created and produced by the legendary himan Brown, who also direct this episode, which was adapted by Percy Grainger.  CBS Radio Mystery Theater ran from 1974 to 1982 for 1,399 episodes, all of which are archived on the internet.

Concerning this tale:  "The persistent appearance of a spirit at a local residence prompts two men to investigate into a mysterious tale spanning over a century.  They learn the power of pure intellect as they pursue the entity that is haunting a local house." 

Enjoy this chilling tale.


"Followed" by "L. T. Meade" (Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith) & "Robert Eustace" (Eustace Robert Barton). first published in The Strand, December 1900; reprinted in The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes 2, edited by Alan K. Russell, 1979; included in the collection of Meade's stories, The Eyes of Terror and Other Dark Adventures, Swan Press, 2021)

It is a dark, starless night.  There may be a sliver of a moon above, but it is most likely obscured by Stygian storm clouds.  Perhaps it is raining; more likely, though, only the threat of rain is present. In the distance above, there is a castle, or perhaps it is a mansion...whatever -- it is a large building, isolated and  towering on the hill behind the girl.  The girl is running from the building, on a path that descends from the building.  The building itself (castle, mansion, whatever...) is in darkness except for a faint light coming from one of its windows.  It's a safe bet to assume that the window is high up in the building -- perhaps it is coming from a turret room.  And there are shadows.  (Did I mention the shadows?  They are there, lots and lot of them, although we are not entirely sure what they are shadows of.)  The girl is running, panicked.  She has long hair, either raven dark or blonde (she is never a redhead).  She is wearing either a long dress or a white nightgown, never Casual wear or a pants suit or some comfy flannel footie pajamas with a plaid pattern (or festooned with tiny yellow ducks).  As she flees, her head is turned ever so slightly back to that mysterious dark bulding which appears to be holding some sort of terror for her.  It's as if she's being chased by some palpable threat.  Her eyes are wide with fear, even though we know that she is a smart, capable woman who, even in this day and age, can handle almost any situation.  As she runs, we can hear a faint voice behind her, exasperated, saying, "For Heaven's sakes, hold still!  I'm trying to capture the moment."  It is the voice of the artist, trying to paint the cover of this latest paperback Gothic romance...

Back in the Sixties and Seventies, Gothics were all the rage, pushing nurse novels and other genre fodder far back in the line of paperbound cash cows.  Of course, these were not true Gothics, havng as much similarity to that genre as a self-help manual has to a serial killer novel.  But they sold, and they sold well.

Why do I mention this?  Because Meade and Eustace's story "Followed" could, with a smidge of updating and by expanding it by a few thousand words or so, have neen a runaway best-selling Gothic romance in those paperback days of yore.   As I was reading the story, I kept thinking what W. E. D. Ross or Phyliis Whitney or Victoria Holt could have done with this plot.

Our heroine's name is Flower Dalrymple (of course it would be).  She is not yet twenty and is engaged to David Ross, a landed propietor, "stalwart and broad-shouldered, with a complexion as dark as a gipsy."  David lives with his mother, whose love for him is "a very strange and a very deep passion."  Had this not been Victorian times, I suspect that fact would have sent off warning alarms for Flower.  David's mother, Lady Sarah, invites Flower to the family estate for the Christmas holidays, whixh in that day and age evidently begin on the second week of December and last almost forever.  So off Flower goes, and Lady Sarah does her best to make her uncomfortable -- hinting and even overtly stating that Flower would be better off breaking the engagemnt.  During her stay, David goes flitting back and forth to London for business, so Flower is spending much of the time alone with Lady Sarah and her machinations.  Well, not exactly alone.  There's a servant -- an Australian bushman who, because he is Black, is named Sambo; Lady Sarah dresses him in lose sily tousers, as though he hailed from the Far East.  (I won't go into Sambo's racial physiogamy because we've evolved from that, one hopes, in the Twentiy-first century.)

We are introduced Lady Sarah's "peculiar recreations."  Reptiles.  More specifically, venomous snakes.   There's the Vipera Nascicornis, the African nose4-horned snake, whose bite can kill a man within four hours,  And there's the Pseuechic Pophyriacus, whose bite can kill within six m inutes.  And there are many other snakes -- ring snakes and puff adders, whip snakes and moccasins, black vipers and copperheads --Lady Sarah has named each, because "they are my younger children."  And what would happen if they got loose? the reader wonders.

You get the picture.  And you know where the plot is going, so I won't bother you with details.  

"Followed" turns out to be an easy, almost addictive read, despite a deus ex whatthehell ending.

I loved it.  It would have made a great AIP or Hammer Studios film, perhaps with Barbara Steele as Flower.  If it had been a Sixties or Seventies Gothic romance, I would have snapped it up as quickly as possible.  

L. T. Meade was a prolific Victorian novelist (over 280 books in her lifetime, and almost a dozen still to be published after her death) of books for young people, most often girls  (A World of Girls, Dumps: A Plain Girl, Jill, a Flower Girl, Betty, a School Girl), as well as many seminal mysteries, first with Clifford Halifax (six books, including The Ponsonby Diamonds, Stories from the Diary of a Doctor. and Dr. Rumsey's Patient:  A Very Strange Story), then with "Robert Eustace" (eleven volumes, including A Master of Mysteries, The Brotherhood of the Seven Kings, and The Sorceress of the Strand).  "Robert Eustace" published a number of mysteries, most often in collaboration -- Eustace would often supply a basic plot and would contribute scientific and medical background to the stories.  In addition to Meade, he collaborated with Dorothy L. Sayers (The Documents in the Case) snd Edgar Jepson (The Tea-Leaf). 

The December 1900 issue of The Strand is available online at Internet Archive.

Monday, March 6, 2023


She was the very best part of me and, because of that, she will continue to be the very best part of me for the rest of my days.  I have been, and continue to be,  blessed.

Sunday, March 5, 2023


Openers:  It was around a quarter to five on a Wednesday Afternoon in October when I marked my place in the Fredric Brown paperback I'd spent much of the day reading.  I tucked it in my back pocket, then went outside and retrieved my table of bargain books from the sidewalk.  This was a good fifteen minutes earlier than usual, but when you're the store owner you can do this sort of thing on a whim.  That's one of the nice things about being an independent antiquarian bookseller, and there are days when it seems like the only nice thing.

This was one of them.

I typically start to shut down for the day around five, and usually manage to clear the last custoomer from the premises by five-thirty.  Then I do what tidying up needs to be done, freshen Raffles's water dish and put some dry food in the bowl, draw the steel gates shut, and lock up.  The Bum Rap, where Carolyn and I have a standing appointment with a bottle of scotch, is just around the corner at Broadway and East Tenth Strret.  It's a five-minute walk, and I generally cross the threshold within a few minutes of six o'clock.

I have to pass Carolyn's establishment, the Poodle Factory, in order to get to the Bum Rap; it's almost always closed when I do, and she's almost always at out usual table by the time I arrive.

But not today, because I was out the door at Barnegat Books by twenty-eight minutes after five.  (I don't know why I checked the time, or why I still remember it.  But I did and I do.)  The Poodle Factory is two doors east of the bookshop, and Carolyn Kaiser was sweeping dog hair out the door when I got there.

-- The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown by Lawrence Block (2023)

How can you go wrong?  A Bernie Rhodenbarr (who in my mind's eye was never Whoopi Goldberg!) story by Lawrence Block (the guy who writes rings around the other guys who write rings!), complete with Carolyn Kaiser (who in my mind's eye was never Bobcat Goldthwait!) in a mystery cum science fiction cum fantasy that references Fredric Brown -- and not just Fredric Brown , but Fredric Brown's What Mad Universe!  Sweet Saint Whoever the Saint of Pulp Is, I'm in Heaven.  I don't think anyone but Block could have pulled this one off.

Ignore my jabbering.  Just get the book and read it!


  • William Lindsay Greshjam, Houdini:  The Man Who Walked through Walls.  Biography.  "An excellent account of the career of a fabulous magician, a legend even during his should be a best-seller for a long time." -- New York Herald Tribune  "Houdini's greatest illusions and escapes, explains Author Gresham as he gives away the master's sercrets, were constructed with the simplicity that is the essence of true genius...So successful were these illusions and escapes that many of Houdini's vast audiences actually believed he had supernatural powers." -- Time  This book was evidently written with the assistance of noted skeptic James Randi (The Amazing Randi).  Gresham led a sad life.  He was an alcoholic, serial adulterer, and abuser.  His third wife, Joyce Davidman, returned from a trip to England to discover he was having an affair with her cousin.  She sold their house where the three were forced to live together because of his finances, paid off Gresham's debts, and returned to England, where she eventually married C. S. Lewis.  Gresham was intersted in carnivals and sideshows, which led to his most noted novel, Nightmare Alley.   He was a believer in the Tarot and flirted with Scientology.  In 1962, Gresham, going blind and diagnosed with cancer, committed suicide (he had tried to commit suicide at once before, many years earlier).  He was 58.
  • Del Howison & Jeff Gelb, editors, Dark Delicacies.  2005 original horror anthology.  "Noted horror anthologist Jeff Gelb and Del Howison, owner of Dark Delacacies, the world's premiere bookstore dedicated to horror literature, serve up a delectable feast of fright with these nineteen original stories, which bears the store's name.  With contributions from genre legends and fresh talents, Dark Delicacies will please the palates of readers with even the most discriminating taste in terro."  Introduction by Richard Matheson and stories by Ray Bradbury, Whitley Steiber, F. Paul Wilson, Brian Lumley, John Farris, Ramsey Campbell, Gahan Wilson, William F. Nolan, Richard Laymon, Clive Barker, and more.  A great line-up.
  • David E. Kahn, as told to Will Oursler, My Life with Edgar Cayce.  Biography, tinged with bushwah.  "David Kahn was just fifteen years old when he met the famous prophet and psychic Edgar Cayce.  For the rest of his life, he was guided and directed by the strange, uncanny powers of this remarkable man.  He consulted Cayce on the most important decisions of his life.  He became an important business executive, met and worked with Eleanor Roosevelt, served the government in two world wars, and met and married a beautiful actress.  In this book, Kahn tells his story to the noted author of many books, Will Oursler.  While it is a classic American success story of a young man's rise, it is also a fascinating portrait of Kahn's mentor, Edgar Cayce.  Kahn conducted Cayce through innumerable 'readings' himself. and grew thoroughly convinced of the validity of the seer's methods and unconscious knowledge.  'If I ever gave a reading that's harmful,' Cayce told him, 'or isn't true, then I'll never give another one for anybody.'  While many books have described Cayce's amazing psychic performances, this book gives the reader, in addition, a warm and intimate portrait of Cayce himself, the great Sleeping Prophet."  I'll file this under Put On Your Boots, It's Getting Deep.  Oursler was the son of Fulton Oursler (The Greatest Story Ever Told, and the author of the Thatcher Colt detective series as "Anthony Abbott").  Will Oursler wrote more tha 45 books, including twelve mystery novels which is why I pick this book up as an associational copy.
  • G. M. Malliet, Death of a Cozy Writer. The first book in the St. Just mystery series and winner of an Agatha Award for Best First Novel.  "Cozily ensconced in his eighteenth-century Cambridgeshire manor, bestselling mystery writer Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk delights in tormenting his four grown children with threats of disinheritance.  Then he announces his latest blow -- he's engaged to Violet, a beautiful widow with a dubious past.  Money-driven panic soon sets in among the backstabbing brood when eldest son and appointed heir, Ruthven, turns up dead in the wine cellar.  Who will win the inheritance sweepstakes?  It's a house full of suspicion, greed, vengeful malice -- and ample motives for murder.  Can Detective Chief Inspector St. Just nab the killer before another heir lands in the family burial plot?"  Please don't get the wrong idea; mystery author actually tend to be the kindest people in the world.
  • "Kevin Matthews" (Gardner F. Fox), Barbary Slave.  Historical novel.  "Captured by Triploi's Barbary pirates, Stephen Fletcher was first enslaved, then assigned to guard the Pasha's harem.  Surrounded by sultry, sloe-eyed beauties whom he dared not touch under pain of torture, Fletcher lived only to escape -- until he met lovely Eve Doremus.  An American like himself, Eve had been bought by Marlani, the Pasha's favorite, to bedevil Fletcher for rejecting her advances.  Together, Fletcher and Eve fought their way through every temptation and indignity in their frantic bid for survival."  More sensational than historic, I fear.  Much tamer, though, than his later paperbacks about "The Lady from L.U.S.T.", written as "Rod Gray," or "Cherry Delight, the Sexecutioner", written as "Glen Chase."  Fox, who wrote dozens of books in all types of genres, is best known for his work in comic books -- he wrote over 4000 comics stories, including 1500 for DC Comics.  Fox created Barbara Gordon, the original Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate, and Zatanna, as well as co-creating the original Sandman.  He combined superheros to create The Justice League of America, and later for The Justice Society of America.  He was the writer to introduce the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics.  For Batman, Fox created the Caped Crusader's untility belt, Batarang, and a protoversion of the Batcopter..  
  • Louise Penny, Glass Houses.  A Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novel, the thirteenth in the series.  "When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious.  Then wary.  Through rain and sleet, the fugure stands unmoving, staring ahead.  From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose.  Yet he does nothing.  What can he do?  Only watch and wait.  And hope his mounting fears are not realized.  But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.  Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back."  I still have not read any of Penny's books, although I enjoyed (with some reservations) thefirst season of Three Pines.
  • Walter J. Sheldon, The Yellow Music Kill.  Spy novel.  "Matt Larkin, ex-Olympic sailing champion, was definitely the playboy type.  A fast boat, a winsome lady, a cold martini or jug of wine were as far as his dreams took him.  Until Pandora opened her pretty lips and told him Uncle Sam needed him.  Before Matt could say, "No, no, a thousand times no!" he had accepted an assignment behind the Bamboo Curtain.  They wanted his help in smuggling a Chinese big shot out of the country.  All Matt had to do was behave like an Olympic sailing champion and smuggle a small radio into China.  Sounded simple enough.  But it wasn't.  It was the toughest thing Matt ever did in his life.  And he came damn close to losing that."  This one follows The Blue Kimono Kill and The Red Flower Kill.  Sheldon wrote for the mystery, western, and science fiction pulps and digests, usually under his own name.  He also wrote Guess Who's Coming to Kill You? as "Ellery Queen",
  • John Skipp, The Long Last Call.  Horror novel from one of the founders of the Splatterpunk subgenre.  "It was closing time at the strip club.  The bartender was cleaning up, and the girls were looking forward to calling it a night.  Then he came in, a well-dressed stranger with a lot of cash to spend.  A briefcase, full, in fact.  But this is no normal customer, and his money is a bit unusual too.  Every dollar he spends stirs up a little more hatred, a little more repressed rage in whoever he gives it to.  As the night passes, the pressure builds...and builds, and the stranger just smiles.  He knows what will come.  He knows he only has to wait to see all of his blood-drenched plans fulfilled."  This edition includes a bonus novella, "Conscience!"
  • "Michael Slade" (Jay and Rebecca Clarke), Death's Door.  The seventh in the Special X series of thrillers.  ("Michael Slade" has been a combined pseudonym for Clarke and -- at various times -- John Banks, Lee Clarke, and Richard Covill.)  "A mummy has been stolen in England.  Authorities believe the motive is the treasure hidden in the wrappings.  They're wrong.  Mutilated bodies of young runways are discovered washed ashore on Vancouver beaches.  Authorities think they're victims of a random serial killer,  They're wrong.  When Chief Superintendent Robert DeClerq and his team follow a clue to an undercover snuff film operation, they believe they've encountered man's sickest desires.  They're wrong.  Something even more cunning, even more depraved is waiting for them.  If they have the guts to follow the clues through Death's Door..."
  • "Brad Steiger"  (Eugene E. Olson) & Sherry Hansen Steiger, Star Born.  More New Age bushwah, the fourth in a series.  "You've read all the headlines -- stories of environmental disasters, military confrontations, UFO sightings, and a public acceptance of the possibility that we are not alone.  What does it all mean?  And how does it affect you?  Since the publication of the startling and controversial book, The Star People, author Brad Steiger has received overwhelming firsthand reports from men and women like yourself who have discovered that they are actual descendants of visitors from the stars.  Now more than ever, their stories must be told.  Awakened to the beauties of truth and hope, you and the ones you love can bravely enter the golden age of newfound awareness -- of the planet we need to heal, the hearts and souls we must uplift, and the mysterious visitors who watch over us, nurture us, and offer us the greatest gift of all.  A second chance for the human race."  Snake oil, thy name is Steiger.
  • Petr Swanson, Eight Perfect Murders.  Mystery.  "Years ago, bookseller and mystery afficiando Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of fiction's most unsolvable murders -- which he titled 'Eight Perfect Murders' -- chosen from among the best of the best, including Agatha Christie's The A.B.C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith's Strangers on a Train, and Ira Levin's Deathtrap.  But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that appear eerily similar to the killings on Mal's old list.  And the agent isn't the only one interested in the bookseller.  The killer is out there, watchingn his every move --a diabolicial threat who knows way too much about Mal's personal history, especially the secrets he's never told anyone, not even his recently deceased wife.  To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects...and sees a killer in everyone around him.  But Mal doesn't count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake.  Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves victims dead -- and the noose around Mal's neck grows so tight he might never escape."  It's hard to go wrong with a mystery about mysteries.

Changes:  Tomorrow is Kitty's birthday, a day I had hoped I would never have to celebrate without her.  Some changes, I'm afraid, are as unpredictable as they are inevitable.

Back during the Bicentennial, both Kitty and I were covering the ceremonies in Concord, Massahcusetts, for some local newspapers.  Actually, we were on the "other" side of that rude bridge, where what was billed as the People's Bicentennial Celebration was being held.  It was a drizzly evening and I was up six or seven flights of staging, photographing Pete Seeger's performance, while Kitty had taken shelter in a nearby tent.  The tent was filled with a couple of dozen very stoned kids...and Phil Ochs.  Kitty sat enthralled.  We have one photograph of that -- Kitty, probably the only straight person in that tent, looked stoned out of her mind.  **sigh**  A few months later, Ochs had committed suicide.  **double sigh** 

The Cosmopolitan John D. MacDonald:  John D. MacDonald (1916-1986), once one of the nost popular and prolific authors in America, appears to be fast fading from the public's sight.  A shame, really, because many of his books are among the finest published in the middle of the Twentieth century.  Although he started in the pulp magazines, he soon shifted to the slicks for many of his stories, just as his novels started as paperback originals eventually moved to the top of the best-seller lists.  He was very popular with the editors and the readers of pre-Helen Gurley Brown Cosmopolitan -- back in the days when they published readable fiction.

From 1942 to 1983, MacDonald appeared in the magazine 38 times, half of those appearances were with abridgements of his novels.  Those abridgements are:
  • April Evil (January 1956)  *
  • Bright Orange for the Shroud (a Travis McGee mystery) (April 1965)
  • Cinnamon Skin (a Travis McGee mystery) (January 1983)
  • The Crossroads (June 1959)  *
  • Darker Than Amber (a Travis McGee mystery) (April 1966)
  • Deadly Victim (an abridgement of You Live Once) (April 1955)  *
  • The Dreadful Lemon Sky )a Travis McGee mystery) (September 1975)
  • The Drowner (January 1963)  *
  • The End of Her Life (an abridgement of Death Trap) (January 1957)  *
  • End of the Night (an abridgement of The End of the Night, 1960) (May 1960)  *
  • The Heat of Money (an abridgement of The Price of Murder) (April 1957)  *
  • One Fearful Yellow Eye ( a Travis McGee mystery) (November 1966)
  • One Monday We Killed Them All (November 1961)  *
  • The Scarlet Ruse (a Travis McGee mystery) (August 1980)
  • Taint of the Tiger (an abridgement of Soft Touch) (March 1958)  *
  • The Tug of Evil (an abridgment of Slam the Big Door) (Janaury 1960)  *
  • The Turquoise Lament (a Travis McGee mystery) (March 1974)
  • Ultimate Surprise (an abridgement of Deadly Welcome) (Janaury 1959)  *
  • Where Is Janice Gantry? (December 1960)  *
  • Where the Body Lies (an abridgemnt of On the Run) (August 1962)  *
In addition, three shorter works were released as novels in Scandanavia; as far as I can tell, none of them have been reprinted in English:
  • The Doll (November 1952) (reprinted in Swedish as Illa ute, 1972)  *
  • Six Golden Pennies (February 1954) (reprinted in Swedish as Ana det vorsta, 1972)  *
  • Suspicion Island (May 1953) (reprinted in Finnish as Huomio-tulta, 1964)  *
Five stories were reprinted in MacDonald's 1966 collection, End of the Tiger and Other Short Stories:
  • The Bear Trap (May 1955)  *
  • The Fast, Loose Money (July 1958)  *
  • Hangover (July 1957)
  • A Romantic Courtesy (July 1957)  *
  • The Trouble with Erica (September 1953)
One story was reprinted in MacDonald's science fiction collection, Other Times, Other Worlds, 1978:
  •  The Legend of Joe Lee (October 1964)  *
This leaves the following nine stories that are unavailable in any of MacDonald's books:
  • College Man (February 1958)  *
  • A Criminal Mind (November 1956 (reprinted in Best Detective Stories of the Year:  12th Annual Collection, edited by David C. Cooke, 1957)  *
  • Firsr Offense (August 1954)  *
  • The Impulse (June 1955)  *
  • Night Fright (November 1953)  *
  • The Payoff (May 1947)  *
  • Pickup (February 1948)  *
  • Refund for Murder (May 1952)  *
  • Travel Light and Travel Far (January 1961)  *

Twenty-nine of these issues are available to read at Internet Archive.  For your convenience, I've marked them with an asterisk (*).

Heroes of the Alamo:  Yesterday, Evan Lewis posted "Westerns You May Have Missed Rides Again (1935)" ( a bunch of really cool movie posters) in his (really cool and always entertaining blog, Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and the Wild West.  One of the posters was for The Outlaw Tamer, starring Lane Chandler.  Who he? you might ask.  Chandler (1899-1972), born Robert Clinton Oakes, was a silent film star who grew up ona hirse ranch in Montana; his expoerience as a youth landed him some bit parts in westerns, beginning in 1925.  Soon he changed his name and began landing leading roles opposite starts like Clara Bow and Greta Garbo.  With the advent of talkies, be began getting supporting roles, often as the sidekick of the leading man in low buidget westrns.   He worked in more wesrteerns than you could shake a stick at and, with the advent of television, in more western series than you could shake a stick at, often in bit parts or with no billing at all.  No fool he, Chanlder retired in 1966 on his residential and commercial real estate investments.

I looked.  The Town Tamer does not appear to be on the internet.  What is avaailable, though, is Heroes of the Alamo, a 1937 film with Chandler featured as Davy Crockett.  Also starring are Earl Hodgins as Stephen Austin, Roger Williams as James Bowie, Rex Lease as William B. Travis, Edward Piel as Sam Houston. and Julian Rivero as General Santa Anna.

Today also happens to be the 177yh anniversary of the fall of the Alamo.

Check out the movie:

Also on This Day:
  • Caesar Augustus (Octavian) is named Pontifix Maximus -- the chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome -- incorporating that position into that of the Emperor.  (12 BCE)
  • The Islamic prophet Muhammed delivered his Farewell Sermon, the Khutbatul Wada.  (632)
  • The Treaty of Paris of 1332 is signed, relinquishing Flemish claims on the Country of Zeeland to William I, the Count of Holland, who, in turn, renounced all claims on Flanders. Just one of many Treaties of Paris over the years.  (1332)
  • Ferdinand Magellan arrives in Guam, less than two months before he reached the Phillipines, where he would be killed in the Battle of Mactan.  (1521)
  • Henry Oldeberg publishes the first issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, the world's longest-running scientific journal.  (1665)
  • President James Monroe signs the Missouri Compromise, bringing Missouri into the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, while ensuring that the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory remains slave-free.  (1820)
  • Toronto is incorporated.  (1834)
  • The Supreme Court darkened its reputation by voting 7-2 in Dred Scott v. Sanford, with the damnfool affirmation that the Constitution does not confer citizenship on Negroes.  (1857)
  • Dmitri Mendeleev present the first periodic tabler.  (1869)
  • "Aspirin" is registered as a trademark by Bayer.  (1899)
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a "Bank Holiday" and closes all U.S. banks and freezes all financial transactions.  (1933)
  • Norman Rockwell pu8bishes "Freedom from Want," one of his "Four Freedoms" paintings in The Saturday Evening Post.  (1943)
  • The Ethel and Julius Rosenberg trail begins.  It does not end well for the couple.  (1951)
  • Georgy Malenkov succeeds Joseph Stalin as Premier of the Soviet Union.  (1953)
  • Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, officially gives Cassius Clay the name of Muhammad Ali.  (1964)
  • Svetlana Alliluyeva, daughter of Jospeh Stalin, defects to the United States.  (1967)
  • The controversial Zapruder film is shown for the first ime on national television.  (1975)
  • Forbes names Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person. with a net worth of $112 billion.  (2018)  [He's currently number 2, behind Elon Musk.]

Happy Birthday, Furry Lewis:  Walter E. "Furry" Lewis (1893? or 1898? or anywhere in between? - 1981) was a Delta blues guitarist and songwriter who was active in the 1920s and found renewed success in the folk blues revival of the 1970s.  Born in Mississippi, he moved to Memphis when he was young,  Tired of travelling to perform, he landed a job as a street sweeper for the city in 1922, a position he held until his retirement in 1966; his job allowed him to continue to perform in the Memphis area.  In 1972 he was the featured performer in the Memphis Blues caravan, which included Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes and other blues legends.  He opened twice for The Rolling Stones and appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  Lewis hated Joni Mithcell's song "Furry Sings the Blues," about her visit to his apartment in 1976, and felt Mitchell should have paid him royalties.  He died of heart failure after contracting pneumnia.  His gravesite has two headstons -- the larger one purchased by fans.

[Apropos of nothing, Walter Lewis was also the name of a neighboring farmer when I was growing up.  I overheard a conversation he once had with my father and I grew up being told that the only people in the world who were allowed to swear were my father, my mother, and Walter Lewis -- and I really don't remember my parents swearing at all.]

Just because it has a cool title, here's Furry Lewis with "Mean Old Bedbug Blues."

Florida Man:  Here's a walk down Florida Man Memory Lane:

Ha!:  A guy I know went ot his boss's funeral.  He knelt by the coffin and whispered, "Who's thinking out of the box now, Gary?"

Good News:
  •  Skier buried by avalanche with just one arm showing manages to flag down helicopter
  • Grandmother stages one-woman protest to save willow tree
  • Micro preemie born at 1 pound, 11 ounces is now thriving
  • Check out this amazing photograph taken from space of an aurora
  • Vitamin D supplements may fend off dementia, especially in females
  • Volunteer knotters finish craft projects for loved ones who have passed
  • A mileston!  Twenty-nine species in Australia have recovered enough to be taken off endangered species list

Today's Poem:
New San Antonio Rose

Deep in my heart lies a melody
A song of old San Antone
Where in dreams I live with a memory
Beneatht he stars all alone

It was there I found beside the Alamo
Enchantment strange as the blue, up above
A moonlit path that only she would know
Still hears my broken song of love

Moon in all your splendor knows only my heart
Call back my Rose, Rose of San Antone
Lips so sweet and tender like petals fallin' apart
Speak once again of my love, my own

Broken song, empty words I know
Still live in my heart all alone
For that moonlit pass by the Alamo
And Rose, my Rose of San Antone

-- Bob Wills
(and set to music: