Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, June 29, 2023


 I, Libertine by "Frederick R. Ewing" (Theodore Sturgeon)  (1956)

"Gadzooks!" quoth I, "but there's a saucy bawd!" -- from the front cover of I, Libertine.

Also from the front cover:  Tubulent!  Turgid! Tempestuous!  (And when was the last time you heard of a book proclaiming itself "Turgid!"?)

But this is no ordinary book.  This is I, Libertine -- a literary jape turned quasi-literary hoax with all proceeds donated to charity.

It happened like this.  Popular late night radio host Jean Shepherd (he of A Christmas Story, In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, Wanda Hickey's Night of Golden Memories: and Other Disasters, Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss, and so many other great works) had an on-air discussion on how easy it was to manipulate best-seller lists, which were based on both demand and sales.  Shepherd fabricated an author (Frederick R. Ewing) and a book title (I, Libertine) and an outline of a basic plot.  Shepherd then asked his listeners to request the book from their local booksellers.  Shepherd's listeners were so effictive that the non-existent novel ended up on The New Times Bestseller List.

The publisher Ian Ballantine, author Theodore Sturgeon, and Shepherd met for lunch one day, and Ballantine hired Sturgeon to ghost-write the novel from Shepherd's basic outline.  Reportedly, Sturgeon fell asleep on Ballantine's couch while trying to meet his deadline in one marathon typing session, and it was up to Ballantine's wife Betty to write the final chapter for the exhausted Sturgeon.  The book became a best-seller.  The cover painting by Frank Kelly Freas did a remarkable job of slyly planting Easter eggs.  The back cover showed a rather disolute Shepherd and had this author's bio:

"I, Libertine, first volume in a project trilogy, is the intial major work of F. R. Ewbng.  Mr. Ewing, an Oxford graduate, was known prior to World War II for his many scholarly contributions to British publications and for his well-remembered series of broadcasts for the B.B.C. on 'Erotica in the 18th Century.'  During the war Mr. Ewing served with the Royal Navy and was retired in 1946 with the rank of Commander,  He saw much action with the North Atlantic Fleet, serving abord several minesweepers.  He resumed his career as a civil servant, and while stationed in Rhodesia, Ewing completed work on I, Libertine."

The back cover also had this to say about the book (which reportedly had been banned in Boston):

"Against the rich mosaic of 18th Century London court life is etched the meteoric rise of Lance Courtenay -- moral adventurer, first of his breed.  To the three women in his life he was three different men and to the world at enigma.  The seldom-discussed, delicate theme and final startling decision of Lance Courtenay have already given to great moral controversy, but each reader must draw his own conclusions.  Greeted with unprecedented acclaim by the English press, I, Libertine is a novel which American readers will no doubt agree is destined to leave its mark on English letters."

I mentioned the book was a quasi-hoax.  It was officially outed by The Wall Street Journal as a fabricated book a few weeks before its publication.  The outing did not deter the book's sales.  Ballantine Books had a single hardcover and paperback release in 1956.  The was a British hardcover in 1957, as well as a British paperback in 1959.  Despite its now cult status, the book lingered out of print until 2013, when Open Road Media released it in e-Book format.  I am unaware of any other editions.  Copies of the book are pricey; on abebooks, they range from $87.95 to $930.00, including shipping.

You should be able to judge the book by the quotes on the cover.  Gadzooks, 'tis turgid prose, indeed.  Another indication comes from this sentence from the first page, describing Lance Courtenay:  "His teeth were excellent, especially the right upper incisor, which was extraodinary."  (We learn more about that specific tooth later on in the first chapter.)

Courtenay himself is extraordinary.  He is really Lancaster ("Lanky") Higger-Piggott, the son of a low-born London ostler, pretending his way through the upper levels of London society as a person with mysterious and unspoken missions for His Majesty's government.  One interesting true-life character in the novel is Elizabeth Chudleigh, a well-connected, scandalous, bigamous figure in British society, whose licentious behavior provided fodder for many a rumor and many a literary work. 

A witty novel of manners and mores as if written by a rather arch Georgette Heyer.  The book is pure fun and is meant to be enjoyed and not taken seriously.

Shepherd, Sturgeon, and the Ballantines have outdone themselves with this one.  If you ever get hold of a copy, you are in for a treat. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Today marks the 122nd birthday of singer and actor Nelson Eddy.   What better time to present the radiol adaptation of the 1937 Nelson Eddy-Jeanette MacDonald musical romance Maytine?

In the framing device, Kip's small town girlfriend Barbara has been offered a job in the big city opera.  Elderly Miss Morrison first tries to console Kip; then, when Barbara goes to Miss Morrison for comfort, she tells Barbara her story.  Miss Morrison was once the internationally famous opera diva Marcia Mornay.  Fade out to Marcia's story of a young singer in Paris introduced to the court of Louis Napolean.  Eddy and MacDonald reprise their film roles for this radio play, which is introduced by Cecil B. DeMille.

Enjoy this enchanting romance.  (And Happy Birthday, Nelson!)

Tuesday, June 27, 2023


This week, I pulled about twenty-five books that I really wanted to read from storage; among them were three original paperback anthologies edited by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins.  As you know, I'm a big fan of both Spillane and Collins; why I had not read these previously is a big mystery to me -- I will, however be reading them over the next few weeks.  The books were designed to continue the flavor of two classic hard-boiled magazines:  Black Mask and Manhunt.  The contributing authors were some of the best established genre writers of the 1990s, along with a few writers new to the field.  The vast majority of the stories were original to each book and some tales have become familiar over the years.  Each book is themed and promises to hold some great reading.

Murder Is My Business (1994) contains seventeen stories about killers for hire:

  • "The Bishop and the Hit Man" by Andrew Greeley
  • "The Man Who Shot Trinity Valance" by Paul Bishop
  • "With Anchovies" by Johyn Lutz
  • "Guest Services" by Max Allan Collins
  • "The Matchstick and the Rubber Band" by Lynn F. Meyers, Jr.
  • "Hitback" by Wayne D. Dundee
  • "Undercover" by Caroluyn Wheat
  • "Angel Face" by Daniel Helpingstone
  • "Improvident Excess" by Barry N. Malzberg
  • "The King of Horror" by Stephen Mertz
  • "A Nice Save" by Edward Wellen
  • "Without a Trace" by Warren Murphy
  • "Runner and the Deathbringer" by Teri White
  • "The Operation" by Henry Slasar
  • "Surrogate" by Ed Gorman
  • "Keller on Horseback" by Lawrence Block
  • "Everybody's Watching Me" by Mickey Spillane (a short novel originally written for Collier's, but that nagazine folded before th story could be printed; it ended up as a four-part serial in the initial issues of Manhunt, January-April 1953)
That's a line-up designed to make my mouth water.  Published by Dutton in hardcover and by Signet in paperback the following year.

Vengeance Is Hers (1997) has sixteen tales of vengeance by women writers, as well as a piece by Spillane in which a prostitute relates her won story.
  • "Sex Is My Vengeance" by Mickey Spillane
  • "Pounds of Flesh" by Valerie Frankel
  • "One Good Turn" by J. A. Jance
  • "Belated Revenge" by Christine Matthews
  • "Couldja Die" by Annette Meyers
  • "Pictures in the Stars" by L. J. Washburn
  • "No, I'm Not Jane Marple, But Since You Ask..." by Margaret Maron
  • "The Other Woman" by Wendi Lee
  • "Where Is She?  Where Did She Go To?" by Dorothy B. Hughes
  • "Family Tradition" by Susan Rogers Cooper
  • "A Front-Row Seat" by Jan Grape
  • "Reunion Queen" by Barbara Collins
  • "Subway" by S. J. Rozan
  • "Hot Prowl" by Mary Wings
  • "The Maggody Files:  Time Will Tell" by Joan Hess
  • "Dust Devil" by Nancy Pickard (first appeared in The Armchair Detective, Winter 1991)
  • "Among My Souvenirs" by Sharyn McCrumb
A first-class list of contributors.  Published in paperback by Signet; I'm not sure if there was a hardcover edition.

Private Eyes (1998) with sixteen stories bout...well, you know.
  •  "The Night I Died:  A Mike Hammer Story" by Mickey Spillane (originally written in 1953 as an unproduced radio script; as a short story for the first time; later adapted by Collins as a 2018 Hard Case Crime graphic novel)
  • "Home Is the Place Where:  A 'Nameless Detective' Story" by Bill Pronzini
  • "Snow Birds" by Stuart M. Kaminsky
  • "Diver" by James L. Traylor
  • "An Eye for Scandal" by Edward D. Hoch
  • "See No Evil" by Barb D'Amato
  • "Killed in Good Company" by William L. DeAndrea
  • "Nicole:  A Matthew Gregory Story" by Ted Fitzgerald
  • "Sideways" by Rex Miller
  • "Can Shoot" by Michael Collins
  • "Easy as Pie" by Arthur Winfield Knioght
  • "Family Values" by Matthew Clemens
  • "The Girl, the Bodu, and the Kitchen Sink" by Martin Meyers
  • "Lessons" by jeremiah Healy
  • "A Favor for Sam:  A Nick Delvecchio Story" by Robert J. Randisi
  • "Kaddish for the Kid:  A Nathan Heller Story" by Max Allan Collins
Some of my favorite authors with some of my favorite characters.  Published in paperback by Signet; I'm not sure if there was  a hardcover edition.

You can't go wrong with any of these books.

Monday, June 26, 2023


John Paye played Vint Bonner, a wandering cowboy, in NBC's The Restless Gun, which ran for 78 episodes over two seasons from 1957 to 1959.   The easy-going Bonner is always looking for a peaceful resolution to problems but somehow that always doesn't happen.

As a special treat, we get to hear John  Payne start off the episode singing "Swanee River" as he cooks up a mess of grub over a campfire.  Then we move on to the actual story.

Vint Bonner meets a young woman (Abigail Garrick, played by Mary Webster) on the rail and she hires him to guide her to Abilene.  When they men up with her husband Peter (John Lupton) and two other men, she changes her her mind when they threaten Bonner.  Seems the two men with her husband are killers and hubby has joined up with them to rob a bank.  Look closely and you'll see stuntman and western action star Kermit Maynard in an uncredited role as the Stagecoach Driver.

"Ricochet" was directed by Justis Addiss, from a script by Frank Burt, Fanya Foss, and Ted Thomas. 

John Payne (1912-1989) is best remembered for his classic role in Miracle on 34th Street.  The actor was named after an ancestor, John Howard Payne, who wrote the song "Home Sweet Home" in 1823.  After the death of his father, Payne found work as a radio singer, augmenting his income with wrestling and boxing.   He eventually found his way the stage and films nin the late 1930s, but his acting career did not really take off until the 1940s with Tin Pan Alley and Week-End in Havana, both with Alice Faye and with Sonja Henie in Serenade and Iceland.  1941's Remember the Day with Claudette Colbert secured his place as a dramitic actor.  After a two-hitch in the Army in World War II, Payne returned to Hollywood, appearing in such films as The Dolly Sisters, Sentimental Journey, The Razor's Edge, and Miracle on 34th Street.  The 50s saw Payne acting in more standard fare -- westerns, crimne dramas, and the like; a shrewd businessman, Payne negotiated profitable terms for these fims and later bought the rights to a number of them.  Later in the decade he returned to showroom singing engagements, as well as starring in The Restless Gun.  In 1961 he was hit by a car in New York City and the recovery from that accident took two years,   He returned to acting but the residual pain from the accident curtailed much of his stage work; he then appeared on numerous television episodes, retiring completely from acting in 1975.  He died fourteen years later at age 77.

Saturday, June 24, 2023


 J. D. Crowe & The New South.


In his original appearance, Captain Jim "Red" Albright was a former World War I air ace, now a civilian aviator who would help people on a weekly basis.  The syndicated radio program premiered on October 17, 1938.  It was created by Wilfred G. Moore and Robert M. Burtt, working for the Blackett, Sample and Hummet advertising company of Chicage for Skelly Oil Company -- the sponsors of an earlier air adventure series, The Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen.  In 1940, sponsorship was taken over by Ovaltine and the show was aired nationally on the Mutual Radio Netewark. moving to the NBC Blue Network in 1942, until it returned to Mutual in 1945, where it remained until December 1949.  When the show first moved to Mutual, Captain Midnight's original story was altered:  now, he had been recruited to head the Secret Squadron, a paramilitary grtoup dedicated to fighting sabotage and espionage both within and without the United States.  With the advent of World War II, the Secret Squadron began to fight the Axis powers who were trying to use technological advances to win the war.  It's interesting to note that the radio show treated women as equals in this male-oriented world.

1942's fifteen-episode film serial Captain Midnight dropped the Secret Squadron, and made the character a masked hero whose secret identity was Albright.  The serial would later turn up on television in 1953 and 1954, airing one episode a week, preceding the television program which aired later in 1954.  On the CBS television program, Captain Midnight was now a Korean War vet and the Secret Squadron is now a private organization.  Ovaltine remained the sponsor.  When the show went into syndication in 1958, Ovaltine was no longer the sponsor but it reaiined the rights to the Captain Midnight name, forcing the character and the show to be rebranded as Jet Jackson, Flying Commando, and any reference to "Captain Midnight" was re-dubbed (poorly) to "Jet Jackson" -- something that both confused and irritated a young me at the time.

Captain Midnight entered the newspaper comic strip world in June 1942 and continued until late int he decade.  Although the strip closely resembled the radio show, there were some difference, the main one being that Captain Midnight was now "an unoffical fighter for freedom," eliminating the government sponsorship of the Sectret Squadron.  Dell Comics had already published some Captain Midnight adventures in various issues of The Funnies (1941-42) and Popular Comics (1942).  Fawcett came out with Captain Midnight Comics for 67 issues, running from September 1942 to September 1948.  Many of the comic books adventures were written by the prolific Otto Binder, who was the co-creatror od Supergirl and many other well-known characters.  The comic book outfitted Captain Midnight in a tight red suit with a "glidersuit" attached to the side, allowing our hero to kinda-sorta fly.  Midnight also used several super-rays, including a "Doom-Beam Torch."  In his secret identity as Captain Albright, he had a secret laboratory in the desert.  Albright was now an Einstein-level scientific genius.

In the Febnraury 1946 issue of Captain Midnight, a Navy plane is flying over the Pacifc to test Albright's latest invention, an underwater searchlight and cannon.  It is shortly before the Japanese surrender.  Using the searchlight, the plane spots a submarine but is shot down.  The Navy plane maages to pancake onto the surface of the Pacific but will not be able to stay afloat for more than a few hours and their radio gear is broken.  At dawn, Albright and Ikky take a Navy blimp in search of the downed aircraft, finding it at the same time as the Japanese sub.  They destroy the sub and rescue the fliers, who tell Midnight that, hoping to avoid their inevitable defeat, the Japanese have sent  a massive submarine fleet to attack the U.S. base in Parento.  It's up to Midnight to delay the enemy fleet in time to allow the Navy planes to eliminate the threat, using the underwater searchlight and cannon.

In Midnight's second episode in the issue, he and Ikky are in the remote woods to test Albright's "Mechanical bloodhound."  Ikky stumbles on Eagle-Beak Jukes' vicious gang of bank robbers.   Ikky tries to stymy their plans but is caught and now faces death, either from a biullet in the back or from a fall off a cliff.

In the months before the war, Albright is working on his "flame cumbustion engine," unaware that his "trusted" assistsant Mitsuo is a spy for the Japanese.  Mitsuo manages to steal the plans and set Albright's lab ablaze.  Albright assumes the plans and Mitsuo were both destroyed by the fire.  Then came the war and the Japanese are using Albright's invention to wreak havoc on the U.S. Navy.  Captain Midnight realizes that there is only one chance to stop his own invention, and takes to the air only to meet Mitsuo in aerial combat..

Enjoy these adventures of Jet Jackson Captain Midnight.

Thursday, June 22, 2023


 In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something brought to you by the Association of American Railroads.

The Railroad Hour was an anthology series of popular musicals and comedies (mainly from 1943 and earlier) that ran from 1948 to 1954, first on ABC Radio, then on NBC for a total of 299 episodes.  Each show was condensed to fit into the time slot.  Gordon MacRae was the host.  Marvin Miller was the announcer.  The show's theme song was "I've Been Working on the Railraod."

Anything Goes features the music and lyrics of Cole Porter, with the original book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse, revised by Howard Lindsey and Russell Crouse.  The show premiered on Broadway in 1934, with Ethel Merman and William Gaxton staring as Reno Sweeney and Billy Crocker.  The version on The Railroad Hour features Victor Moore and Margaret Whiting.

A tale of romance gone astray, false identities, gangsters, revivalists, business mergers, and an ocean voyage add up to one of the most popular musical comedies of the American theater.


Tuesday, June 20, 2023


 "The Man in the Room" by Edwin Balmer & William MacHarg  (first published in Hampton's Magazine, May 1909; first book appearance in the collection The Achievements of Luther Trant, 1910; reprinted numerous times, including in Amazing Stories [April 1927], Scientific Detective Monthly [March 1930], and Great Detective [April 1933])

Luther Trant has the distinction of being the first psychological detective in mystery literature; or, at least the first to maintain a sustained series.  In this, his first recorded adventure, Trant, having graduated the year before, is a young psychology assistant to the respected Dr. Reiland at an unnamed university.  The brilliant and hardworking Trant is convinced that the scientific methods of psychology can be applied to solving crime; he is also convinced that an early form of lie detector (called here a "chronoscope") could reduce the number of unsolved murders by half.

As Trant is explaining his theories to Reiland while walking through the campus, they are met by an anxious Margaret Lawrie, the daughter of the university's treasurer.  Her father had not returned home the night before -- something that was entirely out of his character -- and she is worried.  Trant and Reiland volunteer to accompany her to her father's office, assuring her that nothing could be amiss.

But something was amiss.  There was a smell of gas in the hallway.  The door to Lawrie's office was locked and some paper had been wedged into the keyhole.  As the two men broke down the door, a heavy wave of gas poured over them, and there on the floor was the corpse of Dr. Lawrie, a dagger letter opener in his hand.  Four gas jets had been turned on, their tops removed by pliers to allow more gas to flow.  The windows, which were usually open, were shut.  Trant shut off the gas jets, opened the windows, and then went to the room opposite the hall to do the same to create a cross draft.  The draft spread burnt ashes from the desk through the room.  Under Lawrie's body Trant found a cancelled note for $20,000, signed by Lawrie.  The note, originally for $2000, had been altered.

Dr. Joslyn, the university president soon arrived, convinced that Lawrie had committed suicide.  Reiland, a friend of Lawrie's for some twenty years, could not acccept this.  Neither did Trant.  He pointed out a number of scientific inconsistencies that showed that Lowrie was dead before the gas was turned on.  Joslyn, also an old friend of Lowrie's, had some shocking news.  There was a discrepency in Lowrie's accounts, which indicated that the man had embezzled one hundred thousand dollars from university funds.  Joslyn said that Lowrie offered no explanation when confronted, but said that he could explain all by the following Monday in time for a meeting of the university trustees and for an audit of his books.  Soon, the head of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Branower, arrived with his young wife.  Branower said that he came in response to a note from Lawrie, asking him to meet out of "pity for a man with sixty years of probity behind him facing dishonor and disgrace,"

Trant repeated his charge that Lawrie was dead before the gas had been turned on.  Trant suspected Harrison, Lawrie's assistant of nearly a year, for the deed.  Harrison, who should have been in the office by now, was missing.  Branower said that Harrison had been in a bad accident several days before and now lay in the hospital, so he could not have been responsible.  Trant then went out on a limb and declared that the man responsible must then be one of Lawrie's three closest friends -- Rieland, Joslyn, or Banower.  (I'm sure that there was some psychological reason for this deduction, but if the authors included it, I missed it.)

Trant felt that Lawrie's daughter Margaret probably had the key to understanding this mystery hidden in her subconscience.  (Again, a stretch, but semi-logically explained by the authors.)  He proposed submitting her to a psychological test using the chronoscope to determine the truth.

The psychological test he used was word association.  And, by golly, it worked!

At the end of the story, the mystery is solved and Trant is ready to give up the unisersity and travel to the big city and start solving crimes.  This he did for another eight stories, all collected in The Achievements of Luther Trant.  Another three stories followed and were included in 2013's The Complete Achievemnts of Luther Trant.

There are a few things to unpack here.  All the psychological theories and facts presented were true as far as the knowledge of the day went.  Psychology as a nascant science was still pretty squishy-wishy, but many reputable scientists felt it was accurate and valid.  The idea of a proto-lie detector was also an established fact, although the dependence on its accuracy was misguided.  (This was years before Wonder Woman creator Charles Moulson came up with a practical, albeit still iffy, machine.)  The conclusions Trant made from the test were specious but, in light of the times, wholly believable.  

Edwin Balmer's father developed psychological methods of advertising, which father and son wrote of in The Science of Advertising (1909).  Edwin Balmer (1883-1959) went on to study under applied psychiatrist Walter Dill Scott, who later advised on the scientific accuracy of the Luther Trant stories.  After graduating from Harvard, Balmer began contributing to the major magazines of the day.  He was the editor of Redbook Magazine from 1927 to 1949, and later the magazine's associate publisher.  Balmer wrote two classic science fiction novels with Philip Wylie:  When Worlds Collede and After Worlds Collide.

William MacHarg (1872-1951) was Balmer's brother-in-law.  He, too, was a prolific writer of fiction, best remembered for his popular stories about a "dumb cop," collected in The Affairs of O'Malley (also published as Smart Guy).

The Achievements of Luther Trant, in addition to being a pioneering work of mystery fictions, remains highly readable.  It can be read online through the usual suspects.

Monday, June 19, 2023


Ralph Morgan's a vampire (like Drac)
In a flick that is less than spectac;
     A bite to his parent maternal
     From a vampire bat infernal
Cursed the poor lad, in fact!

Enjoy this programmer.

Sunday, June 18, 2023


 Today is Father's Day, which gives me the opportunity to single out those fathers most important to my life.  First and formeost is my own father, Ralph E. House, the man who I loved more than any other and the one who gave me my moral compass.  Kitty's father, Harold Keane was a quiet man who found joy in everyday things; he was a Bronze Star recipient who always told the funny stories about the war and never the unfunny ones, a whip-smart engineer who graduated from GeorgiaTech without ever graduating from high school.  Kaylee and Amy's father, Michael Dowd, loved them beyond all understanding and who sadly never got see the wonderful women they grew up to be.  Walter Roof -- Mark, Erin, and Jack's father -- is a man of many talents and accomplishments; one of the many things he has installed in his children is a love of nature and animals, both of which continue to guide them toward their futures.

There are many other fathers out there, past and present -- including your own -- who deserve our love, respect, and admiration.  Heroes all.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Friday, June 16, 2023


Bulletman was part of the new wave of superheroes following the advent of Superman two years earlier.  He was created by Bill Parker and Jon Smalle for Fawcett Publishing, which already had a recognizable new star in Captain Marvel.  Fawcett experiemented with a new type of comic book for Bulletman's first appearance:  Nickel Comics #1 (May 1940) cost, as the name implies, just five cents -- half of what other comics cost at the time.  To make up for the shortfall, Nickel Comics had half the page count of regular comics but was issued two time a month, so it all evened out.  The experiment failed after eight issues and Bulletman transferred to Master Comics that October, where he appeared for 99 issues, ending in August 1949.  From Summer 1941 to Fall 1946 Bulletman had his own title, lasting for 16 issues.  He also appeared for eight issues in America's Greatest Comics and made one appearance each in Mary Marvel and Whiz Comics.  He was second only to Captain Marvel as Fawcett's most popular superhero.

Jim Barr's father, police sergeant Pat Barr, was murdered by criminals when Jim was a child.  Jim vowed vengeance on all criminals.  Unfortunatrely, Jim was a runt and could not pass the physical to become a policeman,  But Jim was supersmart and was hired as a forensic investigator, specializing in baistics.  He developed a formula which he thought would eliminate the toxins in the human body that made men turn to crime.  Trying it on himself, he became superstrong, putting on 60 pounds of muscle overnight, and even more intelligent.  He made himself a costume and began fighting crime as Bulletman.  The most distinctive part of the costume was his bullet-shaped helmet, whihc was "gravity regulating."  Now, not only could he fly, but as an exrra bonus, the helemt repelled any bullets firedf at him.

As with Clark Kent and Superman, nobody seems to realize that Jim Barr and Bulletman were the same person until his girlfriend, Susan Kent (later to be his wife), discovered his secret identity.  Susan was also the daughter of a police sergeant and Jim made a helmet for her so she became Bulletgirl.  (I guess Bulletwoman would have been too much of stretch for the comic's audience,)  Bulletman #10 introduce their pet, Bulletdog, complete with his own gravity regulating helmet.  The following year, a neighborhood kid became Bulletboy.  The various bullet helmets must have had great shock absorbers because our heroes tended to smash into things headfirst, just like a bullet would.

To show you what a wholesome title this is, the Editorial Avisory Board for Bulletman in;cuded Eleanor Roosevelt (here noted as the Past President of the Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York), Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Allan Roy Dafoe, M.D. ("The famous Quintuplet doctor"), and The Rev, John W, Tynan, S.J, of (Fordham University). 

Bulletman wandered in comic book Limbo for many years until D.C. Comics leased the rights to various Fawcett characters in 1972.  Since then, Bulletman has appeared in the background in a number of D.C. titles.

Bulletman and Bulletgirl go after The Weeper and Susan's unnamed mutt follows them.  Just as the bad guys are about to shot Susan, the dog attacks, allowing Jim to come tot he rescue.  They decide to reward the pooch with his own helmet and thus Bulletdog was born!  Later, when The Weeper has both Bulletman and Bulletgirl encased in ever-hardening cement, Bulletdog toses a rope to Jim, which he catches in his mouth.  The rope is attached to an elevator, which Bulletdog starts, pulling Jim out of the cement.  Bulletman and Bulletgirl than cappture The Weeper and Bulletdog is rewarded at a fancy French cafe with three turkey legs. (Oh, who's a good boy?  You's a good boy, arentcha?  Cootchie, cootchie.)

Sadly, Bulletdog does not participate in the thee other Bulletman adventures in this issue, as Jim and Susan have to go is alone after The Waxer, Mr. Ego, and The Crackpot.  **sigh**

Enjoy this issue,

Thursday, June 15, 2023


 Killer by Night by "Paul Valdez"  (Alan Yates) (published as an Australian paperback by Transport Publishing Company as part of their "Scientific Thriller" line, 1951)

A frightened woman wakes in her room in the morning, with many balmnk spots in her memory.  Her last coherent thought was at about 10 p.m. the night before; she vaguely rememberes the clock showing 3:00 when she heard a fearful howling from outside...or was it from her own throat?  "There was a killer at large -- a killer who killed like a mad dog.  You couldn't blame the police for searching for a dog -- a dog with the cunning of a mad nan -- or woman!!  But was there such an animal..."

Mike Allison is a feature article writer for the Amercian magazine Dynamite, so named because it was not afraid to blow up everything -- its combination of hard-hitting investigative journalism and sensationalism has made it a world-wide success story.  Mike's last feature was an acclaimed article on the Chicago Ice Pick Murders, a story that ruffled the feathers of many mob bosses, leading his editor to send Mike out of the country util things cooled down.  Mike finds himself in England, looking for material for the final article tp fill his yearly quota.  He's looking for a sensational story that has been hidden from the mainstream press.  He thinks he may have found it in the pages of a small weekly Yorkshire paper:  "LOSS OF SHEEP CONTINUES.  VALUABLE FLOCKS BEING DEPLETED BY SAVAGE DOG."  According to the story, this was the fourth such attack on sheep in recent days; no trace of the killer dog has been seen.

Mike makes arrangements to go to Yorkshire.  the night before he leaves, he runs into a journalist friend, Pete Logan, of the Record.  Logan mentions that he, too, was off to Yorkshire in a few days.  Mike hopes that he is not following the same story.

While driving through the outskirts of town, he comes across a girl, June Staynger, whose car has broken down.  He offers to give her a ride to a garage, but she instead asks him to drive her home, some four miles distant.  June lives at "The Grange," a 300-year-old mansion.  She invites Mike to stay for dinner, where he meets her brother Clive and Major Danning, a family friend.  As Mike leaves, he notices a light in a window on the top floor.  She could see a woman moving around.  Stnge, because neither June nor Clive mentioned that anyone else was in the house.  Driving home, he stops by the road to admire the night.  The peaceful silence is broken by an ubngodly howling in the distance.  Shakened by the strangeness of the noise, Mike drive back to his lodgings.

The next day, the village is abuzz about the death of Tom Bligh, a local dog breeded, whose mutilated corpse was found on the moor.  Judging from the time given and the location of the body, that miust have been the source of the weird howling Mike had heard.  The body was found a few miles from the Staynger estate.  Mike runs into Pete Logan again, who admits that he is there to investigate the sheeps killings -- and ow the killing of Tom Bligh.  It turns out that Logan was originally from the area and had been a good friend of Bligh.  Logan asks Mike to back off from the story.

That evening, Mike goes on a date with June, ending with a romantic (and probably passionate; but Mike is a gentleman, so details are missing from his first-person narrative) walk.  Returning to his lodgings, he meets Doctor Vaseikov, a world-reknown psychiatrist, sent by the head of Dynamite's London office to give some assistance to Mike on the story.  Vaseikov's take is that a lycnthrope was responsible for the slaughters -- noty the werewolf of movies, but a person who is convinced that he is a wolf and acts accordingly.  Mike pooh-poohs the idea of a werewolf, whether human or supernatural.

Searching for clues, Mike goes to Bligh's now-abandoned farm.  He breaks in and discovers and account book with one page torn out.  In the kennels, he discovers Pete Logan's body, with his throat torn out.  Later that night, Mike goes to The Grange.  All is dark on the first floor, but there is alight from the same upper window as before.  Mike climbs up some vines to investigate and sees a woman in her 50s getting upset, throwing a book and at mirror, and howling in the same uncanny way that he had heard before.  The woman is June and Clive's mother, supposedly an invalid and confined to her room.

Mike travels to his London office to get some infomration on Paul Logn.  He discovers that Logan is June's cousin, as well as the details of an odd will involving the family.  Fearting something will happens, he takes a compoany car, driven by an ex-soldier, to rush back to The Grange.  There's a terrible snow storm, visibility is almost non-existent, and it takes them four hours to drive the forty miles.  When he gets there, it's too late -- he finds June's mother over the fresh, blood-stained corpse of Dr. Vaseikov...

There's more, of course, along with a bloodier finale.

Pure pulp.  Pure Austraian pulp, and a fast, interesting read.

"Paul Valdez" was Alan G. Yates, perhaps much better-known as the best-selling author of the Carter Brown mysteries. which flooded the American, English, and Australian markets back in the 60s and 70s.  As "Valdez," Yates wrote fifteen novels for Transport's Scientific Thriller line and six stories for the Australian magazine Thrills, Incorporated.   None of these should be read for their non-existent subtlety and nuance, but for entertainment alone.

Killer by Night, with a nifty cover of a wold lurking outside a window, is available online at Luminist Archives.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023


 "Schizophrenic psychiatrist" may well be an oxymoron, but ley's see how Simon Templay, a.k.a. The Saint, handles him.

Vincent Price stars as The Saint.  Barbara Brooks, a well-known actress, is afraid of something, but before she can tell Simon about it, she is pushed overboard on an ocean liner.  Barbara's death leads Templar to a color-blind killer.

Directed by Thomas McAvity and written by Michael Cramoy.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023


 "The Taking of Cloudy McGee" by W. C. Tuttle  (from Short Stories, February 1926)

Ferdinand P. Putney was the only lawyer in the town of Lost Hills.  His main distinction  was that he had never been in jail, but Putney was relatively young so there was still time.  Amos K. Weed was a cashier at the Lost Hills Bank.  Weed would often fantasize aboout being a great criminal, but the thought of jail and/or being hung deterred him.  Miles Rooney ws the editor of the Lost Hills Clarion, a weekly newspaper, "seven-eighths syndicate matter and one-eighth sarcatic editorial."  Rooney never let facts or knowledge interfere with his editorials and, as such, turned more than a few people against him.

Fate brought them together one evening in Putney's office.  Amos Weed was plainly frightened.  On the strong advice of Putney he had invested heavily in an oil operation.  Since Weed had no money, he pilfered $40,000 from the bank to purchase a one-third interest in the well.   That day, he got word that they had drilled four thousand feet without hitting oil, considerably deeper than any other well had gone in the area without striking oil.  To make things worse, a bank examiner was scheduled to examine the books within a few days.  Putney's legal advice to Weed outlined three options:  run, go to jail and likely be hung by a mob of angry bank investors, ot commit suicide.  None of those options appealed to Weed.

Rooney's problem was also dire.  He had written an editorial excporiating Cloudy McGee, a feared bank robber with a thousand dollar price on his head.  McGee took offense at the characterizations Rooney made and sent him a threatening note, promising to catch up with him.  Rooney admitted that he knew nothing about McGee except that he was wanted for bank robbery; most of his comments were made of whole cloth, but shouldn't an editor print whatever he wanted?

Things were not looking well for Weed or Rooney.  But then Putney's legal (?) mind started working.  The bank still had $10,000 left in it.  If Putney could get McGee to rob the bank before the examiner showed, Weed would be in the clear.  And McGee would have to get out of town before exacting revenge on Rooney.  The only problem was that no one knew what McGee looked like.  Weed was assigned to hang around the saloon and try to suss out which person was McGee.

Into the saloon wanders a tough-looking mas with a huge sombrero with an ornate silver band -- just like the one McGee was said to wear.  Add to that the cartridge belt and the holstered six-shooter and the fancy saddle with an embossed "M" on it that was on the man's horse. and Weed knew he had his man.  Putney offered McGee a thousand dollars (taken from his safe; Putney knew enough not to trust Weed's bank) enter the bank first thing next morning, fire off a couple of rounds, and escape through the back -- he didn't even have to rob the bank to make it look like a real robbery.  But Putney was a lawyer, and he knew not to trust a crook.  So he had Weed enter the bank at night and steal the remaining ten thousand dollars -- to be split evenly between Putney and Weed, 60% for Putney and 40% for Weed.  Unfortunately, somebody knocked Weed out and stole the newly stolen funds.

This meant that Putney was out a thousand dollars and that just wouldn't do, so Putney got a rifle and hid in the alley behind the bank the next morning, intending to kill McGee and grab the money he had stolen the night before.

As you can tell, this tale is a comedy of errors and mistaken identities, that had toend up with the biter(s) bit, probably.

W. C. Tuttle (1883-1969; the initials were for Wilbur Coleman) was a prolific writer for the pulp magazines, most of his work in the western genre.  During his career he sold over a thopusand magazine stories and dozens of novels.  In a 1930 poll od its readers Adventure magazine (one of Tuttle's main markets) had Tutlew as its most popular author.  Tutle's stories combined western adventure with a pleasinf wit.  His best-known characters wre Hashknofe Hartley and Sleepy Stevens, two cowpokes who often served as unwitting detectives.  Other popular characters were Sheriff Henry, Tombstone and Speedy, "Peaceful" Peters, Cultus Collins, Warwhoop Wilson, Terry MCone and Handy Hepburn, Happy Hay.and Sad Sontag; Tuttle also used the twowns of Bronkville, Piperock, and Dogieville as the settings of some of his stories..  He also wrote screenplays for 52 films.  He served as host for Hashknife Hartley, a radio series that aired from 1950 to 1951.  In his younger days, Tuttle was a semi-pro baseball player.

Even a reader typically averse to western stories will find something entertainingly readble in Tuttle

Monday, June 12, 2023


Times were simpler then.  Television was simpler then.  And production values?  Well...

A classic triangel:  two men wanting the same woman.  Geoffrey (a cultured Philip Bourneuf), Claude (more practical and tougher, played by Kent Smith), and eye candy Kay (Joan Wetmore) are traveling through France when they have an accident and their car careens down a slope.  Somehow they land 50,000 years in the past.  (You just can't trust these French!)  And then they are taken captive by a Neanderthal caveman (Kurt Katch) and are taken to -- yep -- a cave.  Frank Gallop serves as the narrater.  Not much happens.  The sniping between the two opposing Romeos is cute.  The science about Neanderthals appears accurate for its time, but is hideously outdated now.

Written by Arch Oboler and Ernest Kinoy, this episode of Lights Out was directed by Laurence Schwab Jr.

Enjoy it for what it is.

Sunday, June 11, 2023


 Openers:  The blue neon sign over his head blinked on and off, advertising two-for-one dinners at the Hlaf Shell from five to seven.  The pungent odor of fried seafood surrounded him like a cloud, leaving a greasy taste in his throat.  He stepped up to the plate glass window, cupped one hand to an eyebrow and scanned the interior of the restaurant to see if Vangie was still on duty.  Things were working out well, he thought, spotting her immediately.  Fair complexion, short blond hair and a tightly stacked body.  Perfect.

Vangie stood behind the counter making change for one of the customers.  Smiling, she looked up and her eyes met his.  She had hungry eyes, how well he knew the type.  Anticipation of the evening's events gave him a rush, making him nervous and slightly aroused at the same time.  He'd frequently waded in the shallow end of the criminal pool, tonight he would explore the depths.  He moved away from the window.  the restuarant closed in an houor, time to arrange things on the boat.

Most of what he needed lay safely hidden in the black satchel he kept in a locker at the gym.  The tricky part of the operation was attaching a metal extension rod to the top of the sailboat mast and he couldn'r accomplish that in the marina, unnoticed.  It required hoisting himself up the mast in the bosum's [sic] chair. and that feat alone might draw unnecessary attention.  He had his wirk cut out for him, but he would have to do it out of sight, away from curious observers.

-- Beyond Gulf Breeze by Joyce Holland (2000)

Sally and Pete Malone lost their daughter-- their onbly child -- to a car accident about a year before.  It was only after her death did they discover that the unmarried Becky had been pregnant.  As a way of coping with their loss, the couple spent the past year sailing the Caribbean, where Sally was nearly killed while investigating a murder.  Somehow that experience brought them closer together while at the same time helped heel the wounds over their daughter's death.

Now Pete's brother-in-law was very ill from heart failure and Pete went to offer his siter and her husband whatever solace he could.  Sally, whop doubted she could be arouind Pete's sister for more than a week without going crazy, decided to use the time to visit her niece Ruby, who was running a bookstore in Gulf Breeze.  Sally moored off the small town while Pete flew to be with his sister.  Gulf Breeze has been described as the UFO center of America, and Ruby, it turned out, was very involved with a local group of UFO enthusiasts called the Sentinels, who would meet by the shore every evening to watch for the strange, unexplained phenomena they called "Bubba."  Bubba was a light display they felt was caused by an alien spaceship.

The following day, Sally was walking the shoreline looking for old bottles in the sand, when she came across Vangie's body.  The girl was nude and had a number of excised wounds on her body and had evidently been electrocuted.  She had been murderred, but was it by aliens as some were beginning to believe?  Vangie was the first in a planned series of deaths designed to be a smokescreen for the killer's eventual true victim.

Sally, having solved one murder before, was interested in investigating this one.  Because the victim was the same age as Ruby, she feared that other young women, including Ruby may be in danger, so Sally inserts herself into the Sentinels and their UFO researches.

There is another murder -- a young woman bludgeoned and then set on fire.  Although the manner of murder was different, Sally suspects the two deaths are related.  A last minute late night boat chase reveals the killer and stops him claiming a third victim.  All is well again in Gulf Breeze.

This was one of five mystery novels by local authors I had picked up over the past year, and the first of the five I had read.  I had a lot of problems with this one.

It's a nautical mystery without much nautical.  It's a serial killer novel without the suspense.  The sleuth, Sally Malone, is unconvincing despite the author's best attempts.  Sally is one to make many friends wherever she goes because of her caring, empathy, and "depth" -- none of which is convincingly displayed.  We learn late in the book that Sally is very religious, just not religious, it seems.  Also nonconvincing are the other characters in the book.  Gulf Breeze was actually a UFO 'hotspot" back in the 80s and 90s. but the entire UFO scene portray in Beyond Gulf Breeze falls flat.  (The author admits that her original skepticism on the subject changed radically as she researched for the book, and the novel now reads like an apologist screed.  The fact that UFOs are [IMHO, which is the only HO that counts] bovine excrement made the rough handling of this subject unsettling.)   The book itself was published by some indy  -- and possibly, vanity -- publisher is evidenced by the shoddy design, packaging, and proofreading.  And why did the author insist on capitalizing the names of birds -- Pelican, Seagull, Heron, etc.?

The local flavor is strong.  Actual locations are mixed with fictional one, as is the history of the area.  (It was interesting to get an explanation of the unusual white sand that is found along the Emerald Coast, for example.)  And nearly a full page is devoted to a recent true-life murder case in nearby Fort Walton Beach, which is where the author lived (and, coincidently, the subject of a nonfiction book the author wrote).  There were times when the author truly needed to restrain herself.

All that being said, this could have been a winner.  A strong agent and a strong editor might have turned it around.  The bones are there.  In fact, the novel as it stands is better than anything i could have produced.

Mary Joyce Holland (1940-2021) was born in Rahway, New Jersey.  Most of the information I have about her is taken from her obituary.  She moved to Fort Walton beach after meeting her second husband.  A self-avowed boat couple, they spent much of each years traveling the rivers of America in their trawler.  A former literry agent, Holland was the past president of Emerald Coast Writers (Destin, FL) and a columnist for Northwest Florida Daily News.  She was the author of five novels:  Boat Dollies (the first Sally Malone mystery), Beyond Gulf Breeze, Murder by Design, Bones in the Schrank, and ... who knows?  (There are a number of authors named Joyce Holland and various online sources conflate both them and their writings.)  She published one nonfiction book (referenced above), Me, My. Myra:  Sex, Lies, Money and Murder in Florida's Emerald Coast.  FictionMags credits four short stories, two vignettes, and one cartoon to her -- one vignette, "Pretty Kitty," Murderous Intent, Winter, 1999, won a Derringer Award.  (The author erroneously claimed it appeared in the Summer/Fall issue.  And FictionMags itself lists her birth year as 1950, with no death year.  **sigh**)

Sadly, Joyce Holland appears to be an author who never reached her full potential.


  • Gregory Benford, Furious Gulf.  Science fiction novel, the eigth in his Galactic Center series that began with In the Ocean of Night.  "Containing the remants of humanity from the planet Snowglade, the spaceship Argo hurtles toward its uncertain destiny, the bold and brilliant Captain Killeen at its helm.  But he has grown increasingly isolated and anguished in command.  The ship's gardens are failing, its voyagers face starvation, and there are dark whispers within. talk of mutiny.  Killeen's will, however, remains as strong as ever, his determination to reach the /True Center of the galaxy bordering on obsession.  Amid a mad swirl of incandescent suns and ghostly blue clouds of galactic dust, beset by hostile worlds controlled by mechs -- a vast and violent artificial intelligence whose only meaning, only mission, is the complete extermination of the human race -- Killeen pursues his desperate search, convinced his people's one hope of survival lies in the True Center.  The crew has followed him this far on faith, a faith now being tested to the loimit.  Even his own son /Toby, groomed for leadership, is beginning to question his father's command."
  • Lawrence Block, The Naked and the Deadly.  Collection of early articles and stories that Block wrote for the men's adventure magazines (Real Men, All Man, Man's Magazine, For Men Only, Stag, and Male) from 1958 to 1974 as "Sheldon Lord," "CC Jones," "John Warren wells," and under his own name.  Articles such as "Pleasure Cruise for 137 Corpses" and "They Called Him 'King of Pain' "  stand side by side with three Ed London mystery stories and two extracts from Bloch's Even Tanner books, as well as an exc ept fromone of his "nonfiction" sex books by "John Warren Wells."  Included ar full color MAM covers, interior pages from the magazines, and information about reworked art related to the stories.  A glorious collection!  Edited by MAM experts Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle.
  • William S. Burroughs, The Ticket That Exploded.  "Experimental," "literary" satiric novel with science fictional overtones from the influential Beat Generation writer.  "This novel of modern America in the grip of total communications control -- a world of computers, tape recorders, and other bizarre electronic devices -- may have seemed like a grotesque lampoon of technology gone mad when it was first pubished in 1962.  Now [...] The Ticket That Exploded reads like a chilling prophecy, a nightmare vision of scientists and combat troops, of ad men and con men whose deceitful language has spread like an incurable infection."  This is a satire that takes some getting used to.
  • Sylvis Cole & Abraham H. Lass, The Facts on File Dictionary of 20th Century Allusions.  Nonfiction, reference.  May be handy for any whippersnappers out there.  
  • Lionel Davidson, Under Plum Lake.  Young adult fantasy.  "It begins on the wild cliffs of Cornwall.  A young boy, attempting a dangerous and forbidden swim, nearly drowning, spots the entrance to a cave.  Days later, drawn to return, he finds steps, a ledge, a platform below.  He jumps.  Someone is there, beckoning him into a winding tunnel under the water, leading to a fantastic world.  This new world has many realms.  There is a forest and a deep, purple blue lake -- Plum Lake.  Under Plum Lake, there are valleys and mountains and a blue sky, lit by the sun.  Fish swim in the air.  Time slows, then stops.  You can feel your ideas forming.  There is a city of fabulous beauty.  The boy begins to learn the secrets of this world, Egon, and of ours.  He has adventures -- terrifying and exhilarating -- testing him in ways that fascinate, challenge, and bewilder him.  He is enthralled.  He is in a dream, but it isn't a dream..."  Davidson was a well-respected crime and spy novelist, winner of three Gold Dagger Awards from the Crime Writers Asscoiation.  I believe this was his only fantasy novel, although he did write three chjildren's bookss as "David Line."
  • Garner Dozois, editor, Galactic Empires.  Anthology of six original space opera novellas by Stephen Baxter, Neal Asher, Robert Reed, Ian McDonald, Peter F. Hamilton, and Alistair Reynolds.
  • John Gardner, Cold Fall.  A James Bond novel.  "Their past includes the most deadly terrorist act in U.S. history.  their plan for the future is the world's worst nightmare.  They are the Children of the Last Days (COLD), and America's last days are coming soon.  But the U.S. has a new weapon in this COLKD war:  a British import, code name 007..."  This was the last of the sixteen James Bond novels that Gardner wrote for the Fleming estate; Raymond Benson then took over, writing the net nine novels in the series.
  • Woody Guthrie, House of Earth.  Novel of Dust Bowl America.  "Tike and Ella May Hamlin struggle to plant roots in the arid land of the Texas Panhandle.  The husband and wife live in a precarious wooden farm shack, but Tike yearns for a stately house that will protect them from the treacherous elements  Thanks to a five-cent government pamphlet, Tike has the know-how to build a simple adobe dwelling, a structure made from the land itself -- fireproof, windproof, Dust Bowl-proof.  A house of earth.  Though they are one with the farm and with each other, the land on which Tike and Ella May live and work is not theirs.  Due to larger forces beyond their control -- including ranching conglomerates and banks -- their adobe house remains painfully out of reach."  Although Guthrie fnished this novel in 1947, it remained unpublished until 2013, when the book was released, edited by Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp.
  • Harry Kressing, The Cook.  Psychological horror novel.  "The Cook may be described as a fable of horror and delight.  The sinster weapons are marvelous food, flattery and, if necessary, neatly accidental murder.  It is brilliantly, beautifully written.  Conrad is a cook of marvelous cleverness.  His recipes are enchanting.  They make thin people fat and fat people thin.  Slowly, ever so slowly -- just by cooking -- Conrad manipulates the lives of his employers until they end up becoming his servants.  And what began as a simple tale ends up a subtle but frightening styudy of the psychology of evil."
  • Dennis Lehane, The Drop.  Crime novel.  "The Drop follows lonely bartender Bob Saginowski through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters -- "money drops" -- in the underworld of Boston bars.  Undet the heavy hand of his employer and cousiGeorges Simenbon, n, Marv, Bob finds himself at the center of a robbery gone awry and entwined in an investigation that digs deep into the past of a neighborhood where friends, families, and foes all work together to make a living -- no matter the cost."
  • Georges Simenon, The Lodger.  Psychological novel.  "A dubious business venture brings the dark, elegantly dressed Elias Nagear from the sunshine-filigreed Istanbul to Brussels, a city of gloomy skies,  The gloom extends to the venture, which never takes off the ground.  Elias soon finds himself ill and penniless, all but abandoned by his curvaceous and lustful companion, Sylvie Baron,  Sylvie, it seems, has focused her sights on a supremely confident and opulent ship-owner nicknamed Van der Boomp.  Elias, consumed with illness and uncontrolled passion, is driven to a desperate act that will leave him psychologically on the run."  It's been decades since I have read a novel by Simenon.
  • Whitley Strieber, Alien Hunter:  Underworld.  A Flynn Carroll thriller.  "As part of a top secret CIA project, Flynn Carroll's police unit is tracking down rogue aliens from another world -- criminals who have committed brutal and bizarre murders.  Flynn has been forbidden to take lethal action against the alien murderers -- but as the bodies begin to pile up, something must be done.  Flynn finds himself cut off from his team, struggling to discern the true nature and mission of this terrifying enemy, all while protecting those around him from this horrific, bizarre threat.   But as Flynn gets closer to the truth, he finds himself facing not only some of the most dangerous and frightening criminals ever seen, but also questions about his own existence:  who -- or what -- is he?"  I have not followed Strieber since he swallowed the Aliens-Are-Among-Us Kool-Aid, so I though I'd give this one a try.
  • John Varley, Red Thunder.  Science fiction novel, the first book in the Thunder and Lightning series.  "The loss of the Mars-bound Ares Seven ship was the final blow to the U.S. space program.  Everyone's accepted that the Chinese will be the first to reach the Red Planet.  Well. almost everyone.  In a deserted Daytona warehouse, seven suburban misfits are constructing a spaceship out of old tanker cars, determination, and all-American guts.  They call her Red Thunder, and they're geared the beautiful beast to rescue Ares Seven and beat the Chinese to Mars -- in just under four days.  That's over three million miles an hour.  It would sound like history in the making if it didn't sound so insane.  Is it possible?  Anything's possible."  Varley is always entertaining and thought-provoking.

Dandy Horse:  217 years ago, the earliest form of the bicycle, the "Dandy Horse" was introduced.  Invented by Karl von Drais, a German forest official and notable inventor.  (Von Drais also came up with the earliest typewriter with a keyboard, an early stenograph machine, a device to record piano music on paper, the firsr meat grinder, and two four-wheeled human-powered vehicles; the name given to a foot driven human-powered railway car, "draisine," is still used today for railway handcars.)  He called his invention a laufmaschine.  (Dandy Horse was a perjorative term soon to be in common usage.)  It was also known as a velocipede, a driasienne, a pedestrian curricle, a hobby-horse, and a swiftwalker.  This early ancester of the bicycle did not have pedals; it was powered by the rider's feet on the ground.  It was the first means of transport to make use of the two-wheel principle.  With a hinged front wheel and handlebar to allow steering, the Dandy Horse could double a person's walking time over even ground.  Von Drais received a patent for the devicein February 1818.

The bicycle began to truly evelove in the early 1860s with the addition of a crank drive and pedals on the front wheel.  In the 1880s, a chain drive was added, connecting the front cranks to the rear wheel, creating the first modern bicycle.  In 1888 the first practival pneumatic tire was invented, bringing about a Golden Age of Bicycles in the 1890s.

Here are more pictures of the dandy horse than you will ever need to see:

Ha!:  When Joe's wife went into labor, his brother Andy stayed with him in the waiting room.  The doctor came out and told Joe, "Your wife is about to give birth.  Would you like mto come in the room to view the event?"  Joe was a little nervous, but agreed.  In the delivery room, he took one look and immediately passed out, knocking his head severely on some of the hospital equipment.  When he waoke, the doctor told him had had received a significant injury and had been uncoinscious for two days.  "But don't worry," the doctor said.  "Your wife has been resting comfortably and you are now the proud father of healthy twins -- a boy and a girl.  In fact, since you were unconscious and your wife was resting, your brother named your children for you."  Joe went crazy, "My brother's the biggest idiot in the world!  How could you let him name my kids?"  The doctor tried to calm Joe, "It's okay, He named your daughter Denise."  "Well, actually that's not bad.  I should give my brother more credit than I have been,  What's the name of my son?"  "Denephew."

Happy Holidays:  In what I assume must be a blatent nod to my ego, today is Superman Day.  It is also Loving Say, a day we need much more of.  June 12 also marks National Peanut Butter Cookie Day (yum), Natioanl Jerky Day (beef, elk, buffalo, salmon -- take your pick), and International Falafel Day.  It's also Red Rose Day (how better to celebrate Loving Day?), Little League Girls Baseball Day, and World Against Child Labor Day.  (I assume the last may not be celebrated in several states this year.  **sigh**)  Although it's usually celebrated tomorrow, some places celebrate International Chacaca Day today; chacaca is a cane-based alcohol that predates rum by nearly 100 years.  For those of a philosophical bent, it's Ghost in the Machine Day.  Because June 11 fell in a weekend, today is Kamehameha Day in Hawaii this year.  Empty nesters whose adult children have returned to the roost may wish to take note of Crowded Nest Awareness Day.  And -- there are really some good one out there, today is National Automotive Service Professionals Day. 

And the birthday of Jazz great Chick Corea (1941-2021), winner of 27 Grammy Awards.  Here he is just a little bit (but not really) out of his wheelhouse:  

Florida Man:
  •  Florida Animal Peter P. Python (not his real name) and clan are being blamed for the explosion in the rat population in the Everglades because they are eating the rats' predators and not the rats.  This is good news for the rats but bad news for humans because the chances of spreading diseases such as hantavitus and Everglades virus are increasing.  In other news, Florida Animal Porky P. Pig (not his real name) and more than 599 of his closest friends have been rounded up by Escambia County animnal control officers.  It took nearly four days for the officers to capture the pigs from the 8-acre property of the In Loving Swinemess Sanctuary.  The pigs, who took the concept of procreation to its limits while at the same time having no concept of boundaries, kept resisting capture.  The porcine situation got so out of hand that the sanctuary's owner called the animal control agency last week and reportedly said, "I can't take this any more."  My daughter, who works at the county animal shelter, told me that the pigs have not been sent to the shelter, but were rehoused at various other locations.  To my knowledge, none have been converted to bacon.
  • In what can only be a stunning testimoney for Florida family life, Florida Man Donnie Adams was rushed to a St. Petersberg hospital after an infestion from a bite he received grew worse.  Turns out the bite had infected him with flesh-eating bacteria.  And what bit him?   A relative.  While at a family function, a dispute between two family members got a tad more than heated.  when Donnie attempted to break things up, one of them bit him.  "There's a lot of really bad bacteria that live between the teeth in the gums in our mouths," said Dr. Fritz Brink, who operated (twice!) on Donny's leg.   Brink did not specifically say Florida teeth, Florida gums, and Florida mouth, but I believe that was impied.  Brink and his team manged to save Donnie's leg.
  •  Florida Woman and Unforgiving Neighbor Susan Louise Lorincz, 58, of St. Petersberg, is charged with slaying her neighbor, Ajike Owens, 35, a Black mother of four.  Lorincz admitted to police that she repeatedly called Owens' children racist slurs in the months leading up to the shooting.  On the night of the shooting, Lorincz reported came out of her house and gave the children the finger, saying, "Get away from my house, you Black slave."  Lorincz said that for the past two years she has had problems with neighborhood children not "respecting" her, including the Owens children, ages 3 to 12.  She had previously placed a "No Trespassing" sign on the common property between her apartment building and the one where Owens lived, despite having no legal right to do so.  On the day of the incident, she called police to complain about children threatening her and trepassing.  That night, she threw a roller skate at children playing basketball outside her apaprtment building, hitting one of them on the foot.  When Owens later came to knock on her door, Lorincz said she thought she was going to kill her and fired a gun through the doorway, killing Owens instead.  The sheriff's office delayed charging Lorincz for several day while they invetigated a possible "stand your ground" defense.
  • Florida Man and real estate mogul M. Patrick Carroll has been banned from various Miami-area restaurants for bad behavior.  He was first banned from the restaurant Carbone and others owned by the same comany after using a racial slur on a service manager and for getting upset that a server poured a glass of wine that Carroll did not approve of for a guest.  He was later banned from a local sushi restaurant after following a customer into the ladies room and then spitting on an employee who tried to get him to leave her alone.  This led to a lawsuit against Carroll, who accused the employee of "c**kblocking" him and threatened to "beat [them] up."   There have been documented instances in the past of Carroll's alleged domestic abuse, including one 2019 telephone call in which he admitted to hitting his now ex-wife.
  • What goes around comes around for Florida Woman and Congresswoman from Florida's 27th Congressional District Maria Elvira Salazar, who had blasted her Democratic predecessor for violating federal conflicts-of-interest and financial disclosure law.  Now, Slazar is accused of breaking the same law.  Oops.
  • Florida Woman Angela Denise Scott, 30, of Pensacola, is charged with Aggravated Assault on an Officer, Resisting an Officer with Violence, Trespassing, and two counts of Aggravated Assaault.  Police had been called to a Pensacola residence in reference to Scott causing a disurbance/  They were informed that Scott had two outstanding warrants for Assault and Trespassing.    Scott resisted the officers and tried to leave, but the officers wrestled her to the ground and placed her in handcuffs.  She also resisted being placed in the patrol car.  When they tried to get her into the car, she bit one of the officers.  On the right bicep.  Breaking the skin.  So he punched her in the face.  Because of her outstanding warrants and past history, Scott is being held without bail.
  • Florida Moron Jacob Pursifull, 20, hopped two fences to the alligator enclosure at Busch Gardens on June 1 so his two buddies could film the escapade and post it on social media.  Pursifull, who surprisingly did not earn the nickname "Stumpy," was arrested for frst degtree stupidity. 

Teenage Devil Dolls:  Sometimes if you are in the mood for really questionable entertainment, you have to look at the bottom of the barrel.  The barrel doesn't get any bottomer than the 1955 teen explopitation flick Teenage Devil Dolls (also known as One Way Ticket to Hell).   Barbara Marks (age uncertain; this is her only acting credit on IMDb; her only other IMDb credits were for producing 11 episode and one special of the daytime series After Forever in 2018-20, for which she received a Daytime Emmy in 2019) plays high school beauty Cassandra Leigh, who falls in with the wrong crowd...bikers!  She starts doing drugs and failing classes; soon she has blown any chance she had of college.  So she marries her very dull, non-biker boyfriend Johnny Adams (Robert Nolan, who has only four credits one IMDb; the next one being an uncredited trumpet player on a 1956 epidode of I Love Lucy).  Bored, she goes back to drugs and the biker gang.  She crashes a car and is released into the custory of her mother and stepfather.  Cassandra is sent to a convelescent home where she has easy access to smuggled dope.  She and another girl, Margo Rossi (Elaine Lindenbaum; you guerssed it -- this is her only credit on IMDb), run away and begin selling dope on the streets.  The two earn the wrath of the big pusher in town,     , who kidnapped them and get them hope;essly hooked on heroin, then sends then to sell dope to school kids   The police crack down on the dope trade, and "[w]ith no dope around, the addicts become raving lunatics and many die in the streets."   The girls hook up with two Mexican boys, who plan to steal a car and head to Mexican and start selling dope again.  The police give chase and the four have to abandon their car and run into the desert, where they eventually go nto heroin withdrawal and are forced to give themselves up -- all except gang leader "Cholo" Martinez (Bamlet "Bam" Lawrence Price, Jr.; more on him down below).  Robert A. Sherry played police Lt. David Jason, who tried to ehlp Cassandra get straight; Sherry's only other role on IMDb was as an uncredited Floight Surgeon on the previous year's The Bridges at Toko-Ri.  What is ninteresting is that Sherry's character is voiced by another actor, Kuirt Martell, who had uncredited roles in two films in 1952 and four appearances as Boyd Cofflin in Dragnet previous to this; Teenage Devil Dolls was his final credit on IMDb .

Not a pretty ending for a pretty high school girl.  Let that be a lesson to all you whippersnappers!  As the movie poster proclaimed:  "One touch of the needle -- A lifetime of torture!"

Now back to Bam Price, Jr.  He not only played the Mexican gang leader in this flick, he also produced, directed, wrote and edited it.  As you may have guessed, this was his onely acting credit on IMDb.  And his only producing credit.  And his only directing credit.  And his only editing credit.  And to top it off, he cast his father, Bamlett Lawrence Price, Sr. as Cassandra's stepfather (and, yes, this was Senior's only credit on IMDb).  Anthony Gorsline, who played Jimmy Sanchez (his only role on IMDb) is listed as one of three Procution Assistants, none of whom had any other credits as production assistants, and IMDb snarkily notes that the three are believed to be the complete additional crew.

This is worse than when Mickey and Judy decide to put on a show in the old barn. 

Check it out:

Good News:
  • Sealed vial reveals the small of Ancient Rome with patchouli scent from the time of Jesus
  • Artist transforms drab city street by painting 130 houses, increasing the value of each
  • Puffer fish create beautiful underwater art mandalas
  • Giant rubber duckies return to Hong Kong Harbor
  • An answer to global warming?  Fungi
  • Security guards save choking baby
  • Single atom x-rayed for the first time in a breakthrough that could change the world

Today's Poem:
Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees, --
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself
"I am lonely, lonely
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades, --

Who say say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

-- William Carlos Williams

Saturday, June 10, 2023


 Dr. C. J. Johnson.

Friday, June 9, 2023


 Here's a short-lived comic book from Baily Publishing.  The title lasted for four issues:  Faust (#1), Aida (#2), Carmen (#3), and Rigaletto (#4).  All were written and drawn by Bernard Baily (1916-1996).  From 1949-1950, Baily had a related syndicated comic strip, Stories of the Operas.

Baily was an influencial figure in comic books.  From 1943 to 1946, he ran the Bernard Baily Studio, a comics shop much like the Eisner-Iger shop, where he had worked for two years.  His studio wrote a number of comic books for various publishers, including Fawcett, Star, Stanmor, Toby, and a pre-Marvel Atlas. Among its artists were some later legends who got their foothold in the industry. thanks to Baily:  Gil Kane, Carmen Infantino, and a 16-year-old Frank Frazetta, among others.  In addition to comics, his Baily Enterprise pubished magazines for children, including For Boys Only and For Girls Only.  Baily was also the co-creator of D.C. Comics.  He left D.C. briefly, returning in 1951 for a thirty-year run drawing for them.

Faust was the work of composer Charles Francois Gounod (1818-1893).  In 1838, Gounod composed his first successful opera (three earlier, less successful operas have been lost to time), Le Medicin Malgre Lui.  The following year saw his most noted work, Faust.  Gounod then turned his attention to composing religious music, including "Ave Maria" (1853).  He died following a stroke while composing a requiem mass for a grandchild who had just dies.  He was 79.

I need not go into the plot of Faust, certainly one of the most famous Deal-With-the-Devil stories, but I would like to pint ouot Baily's glorious artwork in the comic book.  He condensed one of the world's greatest stories into a magnificent book.


Thursday, June 8, 2023


 Warrior of the Dawn by Howard Browne  (first published in two parts in Amazing Stories, Decmeber 1942 and January 1943; publishjed in book form in 1943)

A nifty little subgenre in science fiction and fantasy is the prehistoric novel, from J-H Rosny aine's The Quest for Fire (1911) and The Giant Cat (a.p.a. Quest of the Dawn Man, 1920) to Jean Auel's The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980), and beyond.  Many of the juvenile novels of this ilk, such as Irving Crump's Og stories (Og -- Son of Fire,, 1922, and sequels) were anachronistic.  A number of prehistoric novels merged the lost race theme with an Edgar Rice Burroughs-like Tarzan vibe, as evidence by the SF pulp stories about Toka (by Raymond A. Plamer as "J. W. Pelkie"), Hok (by Manly Wade Wellman), Jongor (by Robert Moore Williams), and Howard Browne's Tharn.

Tharn is a Cro-Magnon, living about 20,000 years before the founding of Rome.  "In appearance, Cri-Magnon Man was ruggedly handsome, both in figure and face...The female was considerably smaller than her mate...Possibly she was lovely in face and figure; we of today have no evidence to the contrary."  Tharn's people are cave dwellers.  Their weapons were clubs, crudely shaped flint knives, and spears; it is "entirely possible" that Cro-Magnons made use of rope.  Unlike the hairy Neanderthals, who, though dying out, shared the planet with them, Cro-Magnons  were possessors of "Leisure -- a period in which [they were] free to do things other than kill [their] enemies, hunt, and eat."

Tharn is twenty-two, the son of Tharn, the tribe's chief.  He is strong, smart. fearless, impetuous, and has a great knowledge of jungle lore.  He is the greatest and wisest hunter of his tribe.  One day, while Tharn and three others were on a hunt, his tribe was attacked by scores of enemies, leaving most of the men dead and Tharn's father with a severe knife wound in his back.  Anger and a thirst for vengeance lead Tharn to follower the invaders' trail at night, rather than wait for daylight with the rest of his tribe.  After some journeying, he comes across another tribe and, assuming this to be the ones who had attacked his people, plans to wreak his vengeance.  A young girl, Dylara, the daughter of the enemy chief, leaves her cave to gather fruit.  The girl is the loveliest creature Tharn has ever seen.  He grabs her and takes her further in the jungle, intending to bring her back to his tribe as his mate.  Along the way, they are attacked by strange men.  Tharn is knocked unconscious and left for dead.  Dylara is captured and brought to Sephar, a city of men who have advanced beyond the Cro-Magnon stage.  The city is ruled by Urim, whose own beautiful daughter, Princess Alurna, is both strong-willed and self-important.  Visiting Sephar is Jotan, an influential citizen of Amman, Sephar's mother country.  Jotan sees Dylara and falls in love with her; Alurna sees Jotan and falls in love with him; Dylara, who thinks that Tharn is dead, falls in love with Jotan.  Urim places Dylara, now a slave to Sephar, in the care of Nada, a Cro-Magnon slave who had been captured a decade ago; it turns out that Nada is actually Tharn's mother, and now mourns the supposed death of her son.

Tharn is not dead.  Eventually he recovers from his wounds and goes off the find Dylara, tracking her to Sephar.  Tharn, of course, has never seen a city before, but does not let that phase him.  He enters the palace in search, manages to arouse the guards, is captiured, and is thrown in a cell with other prosoners, incl;uding Katon, an emissary from one of the cities in Amman, who had earned the displeasure of Urim.  Tharn, Kotan, and the other prisoners are slated for the arena, where men and beasts fight to the death until only one survives -- in the entire history of the arena, the last one standing has always been an animal.  Jotan decides to ask Urim for Dylara later that day. Before he can, however, Alurna bribes a guard to take Dylana to a distant house (rumored to be haunted) and kill her.  Dylana manages to kill the guard and run off n to the jungle.  Jotan learns of Alurna's plot and rushes off to save Dylana, only to find the guard dead and Dylana gone,  Alurna finds that Jotan has gone to rescue Dylana and, with some palace guards, goes to stop him, but they are attacked by Urb, the leader of a roving band of Neanderthals; the guards are killed and Alurna is captured by Mog, a sullen Neanderthal who is struck by her beauty and runs off with her.  Vulcar, the head of the palace guard, takes his men to search for Alurna, leaving Urim relatively unprotected at home.  Urim's chief rival in Sephar is Pryak, the high priest of the God-Whose-Name-May-Not-Be-Spoken-Aloud, a monotheistic entity who both punishes and rewards believers willy-nilly.

So.  Dylara is lost in the jungle.  Tharn is imprisoned in a cell, awaiting a certain death in the arena.  Alurna is captured by Mog.  Pryak may be planning to overthrow Urim.  Nada believes her son is dead, while Tharn is completely unaware of Nada's existence.  Dylara and Alurna still love Jotan,  Jotan and Tharn love Dylara.  And each chapter seems to end in a cliffhanger.  How will things resolve themselves?

Resolve themselves they do, because Tharn returns one more time in Return of Tharn (Amazing Stories, three-part serial, October-December 1948, appearing in book form by Donald M. Grant's  Grandon Company in 1956, the fourth title released by this early science fiction book publisher).

Howard Browne (1908-1999), who hated science fiction, began in 1942 as a managing editor for Amazing Stories and Fantastic Adventures, assuming the editorship of both in 1950.  As editor, he quickly stopped publishing the cultish "Shaver Mystery" stories of Richard S. Shaver that were favored by his predecessor, and oversaw the transformation of Amazing Stories from a pulp to a digest format.  He left Amazing in 1956 to work in Hollywood, where he scripted three movies and wrote more than 125 television episodes for Warner Brothers (Cheyenne, Bourbon Street Beat, Bronco, Hawaiian Eye, Sugarfoot, Lawman, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip) and others.  He is best remembered for his mystery novels, including the classic tales featuring private detective Paul Pine (most published under his "John Evans" pseudonym).

If you are a fan of purple prose, over-the-top descriptions, a mountain of coincidences, and an invincible hero, and don't object to a distinct lack of rigid logic in your reading, you may want to give this one a try.  Literature it ain't, but it sure is fun.


 Another case for Leonidas Wetherall.  This time, someone has switched corpses on a train to 


Tuesday, June 6, 2023


 "Sergeant Shane of the Space Marines" by "John York Cabot" (David Wright O'Brien)  (from Amazing Stories, October 1941)

"Shane made his biggest mistake when he plucked his eyebrows for a girl"  (editorial blurb for "Sergeant Shane of the Space Marines")

Sergeant Shane did have bushy blond eyebrows and he was plucking them at the start of this story because Varda, the Venusian night club singer he fell in love with the night before had complained about them.  Plucking his eyebrows would not be enough to make him handsome; in truth, he was "as ugly as a Venusian mud fence."  He has a build like a weight lifter, and cauliflowered ears, wide shoulders, with long arms ending in big red paws.  To add to this physiogamy, Shane was five feet four inches tall.  He had a habit of falling in love often and not too wisely.

Shane and his friend Corporal Conk go to catch Varna's act.  They socialize with her between sets and have a few drinks, then a few more drinks.  Just when it's time for them to go before their liberty expired, Varna came up to them. frightened about two thuggish men who had been staring at her.  She feared they would follow her home and attack her there.  It is not in the cards for two red-blooded space marines to leave a damsel in distress, so they offer to escort her home.  Along the way, they have a set-to with the two thugs and Shane and Cork leave the thugs unconscious.  Varna takes them to a deserted warehouse, where two other guys pull ray guns on them while Varna securely ties their hands and feet with rope.  Of course it was a trap; space marines are brave and strong and noble, but they really don't have much in the smarts department.  Varna and her two accomplices hustle Shane and Cork into a spaceship and they take off to somewhere in the asteroid belt.

(We never learn exactly why Shane and Cork are kidnapped, only that Varna and her cohorts plan to extract damaging information from them, not realizing that Shane and Cork are just a couple of mooks who have no damaging information.) 

Remember the tweezers?  Shane had them in his pocket and uses them to s-l-o-w-l-y cut through his bonds,  Then Cork does the same.  They capture the ship, subdue the bad guys and head home, expecting a hero's welcome.  Unfortunately, their actions have screwed up an elaborate sting operation that Marine Intelligence had set up.

As with many of the stories in Amazing at the time, this one has editorial footnotes.  One decribes the science fictional metal "parbulium," found only on Venus; a second describes the "Chart Televizors," sort of a futuristic space Mapquest as might be envisioned in the 1940s.  Without these footnotes, the reader might never understand how Shane and Cork get out of their predicament.

David Wright O'Brien (1918-1944) wrote three stories about Sergeant Shane as "John York Cabot" for Amazing; this was the first.  All follow the rather juvenile template that Raymond A. Palmer established for the magazine when he took of its editorship in 1938; sales took pride of place over literary quality as far as Palmer was concerned.  O'Brien was a popular author for Palmer and published almost his entire body of work in either Amazing Stories or its companion magazine Fantastic Adventures.  He published his first sory in 1939.  A good deal of O'Brien's work was space opera and routine adventure, but many of his stories had a sly sense of humor.   The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction notes that O'Brien could be a "sharp and creative writer."  A nephew of famed Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright, he was said to average 50,000 words a month, publishing over 125 stories in his short career, both under his own name and as "John York Cabot," "Bruce Dennis," "Duncan [H.] Fransworth," and "Richard Vardon," as well as under the house pseudonyms "Alexander Blade" and "Clee Garson."  Some of his works were in collaboration with his friend William P. McGivern, with whom he shared an office. O'Brien died in World War II over Berlin on December 11, 1944; he was 26.

The vast majority of O'Brien's work can be found online in various magazines, including the October 1941 issue of Amazing Stories, at the usual sources; you can use his listing on to locate individual issues.


 She is 74 years old today because she will live on forever in my heart.

Monday, June 5, 2023


 I am a sucker for gorilla movies.  More to the point, I am a sucker for cheesy gorilla movies.  And, ultimately, I am a sucker for cheesy gorilla movies with Ray Corrigan in costume.  White Pongo hits the mark on all three counts.

First, let' get the unpleasant suff out of the way.  This is a 1945 Poverty row film, so you know it has racist overtones (and undertones, and smack down the middle tones).  The head porter on the safari is a negro named "Mumbo Jumbo" (Joel Fluellen); let's all slink down in our seats when that comes up, okay?  Not much of a spoiler, but "White Pongo" (whose name is pronounced "White Ponga" throughout the film) is a rare white gorilla, suspected of being the "missing link" between ape and man.  Note that it is a white gorilla, and not a black one.  And there are stereotypical Nazis, but since it's 1945 we'll let that one slide.

Anyway, some scientists and adventurers are on a safari into the Congo (rhymes with Pongp) is serch of this rumored, rare white gorilla.  "Rare" means "hard to find," something that would not apply here if the jamooks on the safari opened their eyes -- Pongo is lurking  in the nearby bushes in almost every scene.  A diary of Fredrick Dierdorf, a murdered anthropologist, convinces the scientists that they are on the trasck of the missing link.  Leading the expedition is Sir Harry Bragdon (Gordon Richards), who brings along his eye candy daughter Pamela (Maris Wrixon) because she is qualified, having been born on a safari ('nuf said).  She is in love (for the moment) with namby-pamby rich snob Clive Carswell.  Also along is heroic bodyguard Geoffrey Bishop (Richard Fraser), who is really an undercover agent trying to suss out evil safari guide Hans Kroegert (Al Eben), whom Bishop suspects murdered Dierdorf.  Kroegert plans to use the safari to locate a hidden gold mine, then murder Bishop and the other safari members.

There's a fight scene between Pongo (the good gorilla) and a black (bad) gorilla.  Pongo smash jungle!

Do we even have to mention that Pongo has the hots (in a purely platonic way) for Pamela?  I though not.

Ray Corrigan, who got a lot of use out of his several gorilla suits, is the star of the movie, IMHO.

White Pongo was one of over 270 films directed by the prolific Sam Neufield.  The story and script were by Raymong L. Schrock, who has 159 writing credits on IMDb.  Look closely and you'll see Milton Kibbee (brother of Guy Kibbee) as Gunderson.

Here's the best way to experience White Pongo:  you'll need a lot of popcorn and a great deal of libations -- and, perhaps, some forgiving friends -- as you watch this one.