Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, August 31, 2023


The Cisco Kidwas always a favorite of mine back i those longgoneby days, second only to Hopalong Cassidy.  I loved the television show with Duncan Ronaldo and Leo Carrillo but never listened to the radio program.  Television was the staple in our household; radio was only used to catch E. B. Rideout's weather report on WEEI, essential to our farming family.  (Rideout was Boston's first radio meteorologist, who began his long career on our local radio in 1925.)

The Cisco Kid was created by O. Henry in his 1907 story "The Caballero's Way."  The O. Henry character was a less-than-honorable desperado.  In film,beginning in 1914 and moving through 27 features until 1950, with a television movie added in 1994, the character soon morphed into the heroic character we recognize today.  Among the acors portraying the Cisco Kid in movies were Warner Baxter, Caesar Romero, Gilbert Roland, and Duncan Ronaldo; Jimmy Smits had the role in the television movie.

The Cisco Kid  hit the airwaves on Mutual Radio on October 2, 1942, with Jackson Beck in the title role. and ran through February 14, 1945.  It was revived on the Mutual/Don Lee Network in 1946 with Jack Mather as the Cisco Kid.  the series then ran in syndication for more than 600 episodes from 1947 to 1956, with Mather still in the title role.  Cisco's sidekick Pancho was played by Louis Soren during the first run, then by Harry E. Lang in the revived series; when Land died in 1953, the Role of Pancho was taken over by Mel Blanc.

On television, The Cisco Kid -- my Cisco Kid -- ran in syndication from September 5, 1950 to March 22, 1956, for a total of 156 half-hour episodes.  I never got tired of the "Oh, Pancho!"  Oh, Cisco!" interchanged between Renaldo and Carrillo.

There have also been graphic novels and comics books about the character, including a 41-issue comic book from Dell Comics from 1950 to 1958.

Harry Lang still played Pancho in "Wreck of Old 13."  Old 13 had a reputation as an unlucky train but the superstition did not stop a railroad executive and his daughter from taking the train.  When a gang od deperadoes plot to kidnap the executive for ransom, Cisco and Pancho step in to stop them.  The excutive's daughter thinks that they are the outlaws and Pancho finds himself at the control of a runaway train.  All is well at the end, though, and the executive's daughter now views Cisco through ga-ga eyes.  (Yech! Mush!)

Enjoy this episode.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


 "A Razor in Fleet Street" by John Dickson Carr  (radio script for the first episode of Cabin B-13, which aired on July 5, 1948 on the Columbia Broadcasing Company;  a revised/edited version of the script was published in London Mystery Magazine, February/March 1952, under the title "Flight from Fleet Street;" the original script has been reprinted in The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from the Casebook of Cabin B-13, edited by Tony Medawar and Douglas Greene, 2020)

A ship's horn sounds four times...atmospheric music...then...

"From his notebooks of the strange and sinister, Dr. Fabian brings you tonight's tale...another great tale of mystery and murder writen by the world-famous bestseller mystery author John Dickson Carr."

The announcer says, "Cabin B-13."  Another musical flourish as we hear actor Arnold Moss as Dr. Robert Fabian say:

"My name is Fabian.. ship's surgeon of the luxery liner Maurevania.  Tonight, as we lay alongside the docks at the great port of Southampton, the ship is ghostly, deserted.  Our passengers on this world cruise have gone to London.  And as I sit here in my cabin, B-Thirteen, I am reminded how the tides and storms of a thousand voyages have wrought nothing more strange, more sinister than man's desire for adventure in the strange ports and lands we touch.  I remember Bill and Brenda Leslie -- it was yerars ago, before the war -- and the effect on their characters of the mortal terror that overtook them in London."

Music: fades out.

Bill, and American, and his wife, British, have beeked into a quiet, somewhat dingy, hotel.  Bill has been in the diplomatic service for seven years and has been stationed at three capitols, but has never been to London.  In a week, he will be headed to a diplomatic post in Lisbon.  But for now Bill feels he is in the true London, not the ritzy London of Claridges or some other fancy htoel, but the London of his imagination...Sherlock Holmes!  Dr. Fu Manchu!  Hansom cabs rattling theourgh the fog...

 Then an inspector from Scotland Yard show up and shows Bill and Brenda a photograph of Bill, except the man in the photograph is not Bill.  It is a lookalike named Flash Morgan, a murderous "ripper" -- one who slashes throats with a razor -- hoping to escape capture.  If Morgn can forge documents and pose as Bill on the trip to Lisbon, he will have a false diplomatic immunity and be free from capture.  and, of course, if this came to pass, several unpleasant things could also happen to Brenda.  

It was known that Morgan used to hang out at 96 Fleet Street, just above a barber shop.  Rather than stay safely i n his room for the next week, Bill decides to go to Fleet Street to see if he could nab Flash Morgan by himself.  Diplomats may not be the sharpest crayons in the box.

(Note that the Fleet Street address, in real life is the address of a well-known public house, and has been since the 1830s.  However, a few doors down, at 152 Fleet Street, is the fictional address of Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  A little lagniappe that Carr included.  The barber in Carr's story was named Henry M. Jenkins; the editors of London Mystery Magazine joyfully changed the name to Henry S. Todd when the story was reprinted.)

Bill goes to the Fleet Street address and believes he has locked Flash Morgan in a closet.  when the police open the closet, sure enough there's Morgan.  However, he is dead and his throat has been cut...

How has this happened and how can Bill clear himself?

Cabin B-13 got its title (and little else) from an episode that Carr wrote for the radio show SuspenseCabin B-13 ran for two seasons on CBS Radio, for a total of 23 episodes, all penned by Carr.  For many years, the details of the show were believe to have been lost; only a few episodes survived and it was not even known how many episodes were aired.  In the early Ninties, however, the scripts were discovered within the depths of the Library of Congress.  The complete scripts along with extensive "Notes for the Curious" are now available in The Island of Coffins and Other Mysteries from the Casefiles of Cabin B-13. 

Fans of old-time radio and fans of John Dickson Carr should rejoice.


Masters of Horror was a telvision anthology series that ran on Showtime for two season for a total of 26 hour-long episodes.  Creator Mick Garris utilized the talents of some of the most well-known directors of horror films to produce the series, thus the title Masters of Horror.  Among the "Masters" directing the series were Don Coscarelli, Stuart Gordon, Tobe Hooper, Dario Argento, Joe Dante, John Landis, John Carpenter, Lucky McKee, Larry Cohen, Brad Anderson, and Garris himself.  Many of the episodes were adapte fro stories by well-known writers in the genre, including Joe R. Lansdale, H. P. Lovecraft, Richard Matheson, David J. Schow, Clive Barker, Ambrose Bierce,  F. Paul Wilson, James Tiptree, Jr., John Farris, Edgar Allan Poe, and Bentley Little.  Many of the teleplays were adapted by the directors themselves or by sich writers as Richard Christian Matheson and Richard Chizmar.  In some areas internationally, the episodes were released a theatrical films.

When Showtrime did not renew the series for a third series, Garris took the planned third season to NBC, which aired it as Fear Itself, beginning in the Summer of 2008.  Fear Itself was based on the same premise as Masters of Horror, although the episodes appear not to have nee based on previously published stories.  NBC pulled the plug on Fear Itself after eight episodes, leaving the last five episodes unaired.

(Some of the producers of Masters of Horror floated a similar series, Masters of Science Ficrion, to ABC, which began airing the series on October 24, 2017.  Four of the six filmed episodes aired; the remaining two were cut for undisclosed reasons.   The aired episodes were based on stories by John  Kessel, Howard Fast, Robert A. Heinlein, and Harlan Ellison; the unaired episodes on stories by Walter Mosley and Robert Sheckley.) 

The initial episode of Masters of Horror was directed by Don Coscarelli, who had directed the first four Phantasm films, The BeastmasterBubba Ho-Tep, and (later) John Dies at the End.  Coscarelli and Stephen Romano wrote the script based on a story by Joe R. Lansdale (his ownself). 

Ellen (Bree Turner, who played Rosalie Calvert for six seasons of Grimm) is drivng on a lonely road ("No Gas or Services Next 75 Miles") is distracted as she tunes the car radio and crashes into another car.  The car is empty but there is a trail of blood leading off the road.  She encounters a deformed serial killer Moonface (John DeSantis, "Lurch" on The New Addams Family) whjo was dragging the barely-alive body of the driver of the other car.  A chase ensues and, through flashabcks, we lern that Ellen was married to a survivalist (Ethan Embry, Brotherhood, Once Upon aTime, Sneaky Pete, Grace and Frankie) who had taught her all sorts of tricks.  Ellen is fanilly captured and wake up in front of the delusional and supposedly incapacitated Buddy (Angus Scrimm, "The Tall Man" in Cascarilli's Phantasm films) who tells her of the horrible tortures Moonface uses with his victims.

Grue, gore, gratuitous spades.  Can Ellen survive using what she has learned from her survivalist husband?

This is not one for those with a weak stomach.

"Incident On and Off a Mountain Road" first appeared in the anthology Night Visions 8 (Paul J. Mikol, uncredited editor, 1991) and has been reprinted in the following Lansdale collections:  Writer of the Purple Rage (1994), High Cotton:  Selected Stories of Joe R. Lansdale (2000), The God of the Razor (2007), The Best of Joe R. Lansdale (2010), Blood in the Gears (2019), and Things Get Ugly:  The Best Crime Fiction of Joe R. Lansdale (2023). 

Enjoy this episode.  You may want to have your security blanket and/or stuffed pookie bear handy.

Monday, August 28, 2023


Oh, the time it does fly!  Although it seems like just yesterday to me, it was actually 27 years ago that Kaylee entered this world...and for 27 years, the world has been a much better place.

On that far-off yesterday at Georgetown University Hospital, the nurses brought forth a tightly-swaddled lump of beauty -- quiet, serene, and regal.  Although I know a new-born's eyes can't focus, Kaylee's eyes were wide, seemingly taking in all around her and pronouncing it good.  She had a majestic aura of joy, that she was happy to be a part of this new worlds, her world.  Kaylee was just happy to be.  That was when we -- all of us -- fell in love with her.

When she was little, she would help me take out the trash.  She would ride on my shoulders and hold the trashbag while I bounced her up and down.  Her laughter could cure the world of all its ills.  While at the supermarket, I would get her a donut from the store's bakery.  As we roamed through the store she would eat it -- in this case, "eat it" was a euphemism for wearing it all over her face.  At the checkout line, I did not have to say a thing; the clerk would look at her and automatically ring up one donut.  If we drive past the local K-Mart, she would get excited and yell "Melmo store!," because K-Mart would carry Elmo merchandise and Elmo was her favorite Sesame Street character.  It's funny how these little moments will stay with you over the years...

As the years passed, she continued on to become the loving, smart, sensitive, caring person she is today.  I look at the person she has become and my heart swells with pride and love.  And yet there's a part of me that wishes I could still carry her on my shoulders, laughing and bouncing, as we head out with the day's trash.

Have a great birthday, my love.  You have meant more to me and your Nana than you could ever know.

Sunday, August 27, 2023


 A Cajun twist to a classic, from Les Amies Louisianaises.

Friday, August 25, 2023


Western/Dell Publishing's Super Comics ran for 121 issues from 1938 to 1949, basically reprinting popular newspaper comic strips from the Chicago Tribune -- N. Y. News Syndicate, a bargain for those comic strip fans whose local papers did not carry the syndicate's offerings.  Super Comics #1 was basically a continuation of Dell's Popular Comics #27 -- continuing story arcs from that magazine.

Strips carried in this issue included Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Terry and the Pirates, Gasoline Alley, Moon Mullins, and Crime a Hundred Years from Now.  Also featured were Smilin' Jack, The Gumps, Little Joe, Smokey Stover, Smitty, Harold Teen, Small Stuff, Tyrone Ford, Winnie Winkle, Sweeney and Son, Punchie, Streaky, and Tootsie the Telephone Girl.

The comicbookplus link below has eliminated Dick Tracy and Little Orphan Annie from their scan because both remain in copyright.

Enjoy these newspaper strips from 1936, 1937, and 1938.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


Nightmare Journey by Dean R. Koontz  (1975)

I view Nightmare Journey as an end-stage early-stage Koontz novel.  Koontz had already published over thirty novels in various genres (mystery, crime, suspense, adventure, horror, gothic, sleaze*, mainstream, and science fiction, and 1975 appears to be the rough jumping off point where he would begin his major best-selling career.  His first major success, Demon Seed, was two years behind him, and the movie adapatation of the novel two years ahead.  In later years he would drop the middle initial, update his physical appearance, go ga-ga over golden retrievers, and produce highly readable but frustrating highly readible but frustrating novel after novel.  Life for Dean Koontz is good, and life in the 60s and early 70s was also pretty good as he learned his craft.

One way Koontz kept stirring the pot in his early science fiction novels was to toss in a lot of imaginative ingredients, roil them around in the cauldron for a chapter or so, then move on.  the world-changing, sometimes galaxy changing, climax would come on suddently, mumble a few platitudes, then stop.  The end.  These early works were interesting, entertaining, basically forgettabe pieces of fluff.  With Nightmare Journey and a few other books from that time, he appears to be trying to move from that template.

Joun Clute, in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, wrote, "Of those novels written within  in a more normal sf frame, Nightmare Journey (1975) stands out, though overcompicated; it impressively depicts a world 100,000 years hence when humnaity, thrust back from the stars by an incomprehensible Alien intelligence, goes sour in the prison of Earth, where radioactivity has speeded mutation, causing a religious backlash."

And let me quote from Richard E. Geis's 1975 review of the book:  "Dean R. Koontz has never been known for his depth or ease of characterization (even though he tries, he tries...) and his newest sf novel [...] is of his usual qalulity.

"Dean, from the beginning of his writing career (perhaps even in the myraid sex novels he wrote early-on) has been a do-gooder, an anti-authoritartian Liberal in the philosophies expressed in his stories.  He has killed God a lot, and revolt against future dictatorships has been high in his favor.

"In this novel the brotherhood of man and of all telepathic beings is affirmed...except, of course, mankind turns out in the end to be superior in the psi depts.  We are eventual rulers of the sevagram, I presume, after an incubation period on Earth.

"See, in the beginning, mankind went to the stars and eventually ran into superior beings -- telepaths -- who made us feel like turds.  Mankind shrank back to Earth and played masturbatory games with his genes, with artificial wombs, and indulged in a final world war that wiped out civilization and left all kinds of ruins and wonders and a scattering of still-functioning devises and robots and such.

"In the time of the novel there are the Pures (a residue of parasitic, non-telepathic humans of 'normal' genetic makeup who practce a self-serving racist religion; their holy mission is to rid the ranks od tainted, genetically variant, humans) and the intelligent, surviving, viable results of artifical wombs whom the Pures contemptuously consider animals-that-talk.

"Jask is a Pure who suddenly developed telepathic powers (the seeds are sproutng...).  He escapes, links up with a telepathic bear-man, and they eventually link with a party of three rather Different telepaths.  The group seeks out the Black Presence -- an alien Watcher stationed on Earth to monitor mankind.

"There is danger, love, etc. as Jask gradually overcomes his Pure religious training and accepts his telepathy and the others as humans."

There is a soupcon of Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human here and a dash (unusual for an early Koontz SF novel) of sex.

When I finished the book, I really wasn't satisfied, but -- contrariwise -- was glad I read it.



Willaim Powell and Carole Lombard reprise their roles from the 1936 film for this bright and charming hour-long adaptation.  Also on hand from the original film are Gail Patrick and Micha Auer.  The adaptation also features a young david Niven, who was just rising from a series of significant supporting roles to leading man status.

A scatter-brained socialite hires a derelict to act as her butler, unaware of who the derelict is.  Romance and comedy ensue.

Enjoy this beloved classic.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023


 "Dr. Polnitzski" by Arlo Bates  (first published in Ainslee's Magazine, July 1903; reprinted in The Intoxicated Ghost and Other Stories, 1908)

Our narrator is recuperating from a serious horse riding injury at the estate of a friend.  His friend's family physician had been taken ill, so another doctor in the area, Dr. Polnitzski, had been called into treat the man's serious leg wound.  Then our narrator's friend and family had been called away to attend to a married daughter who had become ill, leaving the narrator with Dr. Polnitzski as his main companion during his recovery.

Little was known about Polnitzski.  He was Russian and had been in England for some dozen years, living quietly and unobstrusively while all the while gaining a reputation as an extraordinary physician while quietly engaging in philanthropic work.  One evening, Polnitzski told his story for the first time since he had been in England.

Polnitzski came from a line of small nobles in Moscow.  His father died when the boy was seventeen, leaving only Polnitzski and his sainted mother.  Around the same time, Polnitzski became obsessed with Alexandrina, nicknamed "Shurochka," the daughter of the family's steward.  P{olnitzski trierd to keep his feelings hidden, knowing that a relationship with a descendant of serfs would be impossible.  Besides, Shurochka had been pledge since childhood to her cousin.  Eventually, she and her cousin were married and they maved from the area.  Shortly after that, our narrator's mother died, leaving him alone to study medicine.

It was, as always, a tubulant time in Russia.  Corruption and oppression were rampant.  Polnitzski and others, pledgiong loyalty to Mother Russia and her people, organized into secret cadres.  They were called by some Patriots, by others, Nihilists.  The years pased and Polnitski gor word that Shurochka had goone missing.  She had attracted the attentions of a powerful officer who had kidnapped her; her husband, when complaining to the authorities, was branded a traitor and sent to Siberia,  No word was heard of Shurochka's ultimate fate.

Then came a time when the powerful General Kakonzoff was to come to the area.  He had information that would implicate two members of the cabal and would have to be stopped before he passed the information on.  It was determined the general must be assassinated.  By a fluke, the bullet missed his heart, entering instead into his lung.  And by another fluke, Polnitzki was assigned as his physician.  As a patriot pledged to Mother Russia, Polnitzski was pobligated to let the general die.  As a physician pledge to his sacred calling, he must do all possible to save the man.  The physiucian part of him won out, but the the general took a turn for the worse -- perhaps nature would relive Polnitzski of his Hobson's choice.  Then a woman stopped him and begged hm to save the general.  It turned out to be Shurochka, older, paler, with scars on her face.  The general himself had tired of Polnitzski's childhood obsession, but she refused to leave the man who had beaten her and thrown her aside.  Polnitzski's choice worsened.  Should he honor his childhood love's plea, and perhaps place his compatriots in danger?  Or should he go against his sacred oath and allow the man to die, perhaps saving countless other lives?  His decision would lead to his enventually exile to England.

Arlo Bates (1850-1918) was a noted poet, author, journalist, and educator.  He was the editor of the Boston Sunday Courier for fourteen years, and later became a professor of English at the Massachusetts Instuitute of Technology.  He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1900.  His best-known novels were The Pagans (1884), The Philistines (1888), and The Puritans (1889).  The Intoxicated Ghost and Other Stories collected nine stories, a number of them from the major literary magazines of the day, and is available to be be read online at Haithi Trust and other sources.

Monday, August 21, 2023


 Before there was Jim Hutton as Ellery Queen in the 1970s, there was Lee Bowman in the early1950s.  Bowman replaced Richard Hart, the original television Ellery in the DuMont network series, after Hart dies of a heart attack in January 1951 -- just three months after the show had begun to air.   The show continued on DuMont util early December 1951, moving to ABC ten days later.  It remained on ABC until November 26, 1952.  Ellery made it back to television in late 1950 with33 episodes of The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (1958-59), featuring George Nader as Ellery for the first twenty episodes, and Lee Phillips for the remaining thirteen.

The Dumont and ABC series also featured Florenz Ames as Inspector Richard Queen.  Rex Marshall served as the show's announcer.  The 93 episodes on the Du Mont/ABC version were produced by Irving and Norman Pincus and were directed by Donald Richardson.  Most, if not all, of the scripts were written by Helene Hanff, who later go to fame as the author of 84 Charing Cross Road.

"Murder to Music" was the eighth episode in DuMont's second season and was recorded on kinescope from a live performance..  In it, an ambitious young pianist will not let anything get in the way of making her debut -- even if it means killing the conductor's wife.  Jerome Cowan and Rolfe Sedan are among the featured players.


Sunday, August 20, 2023


 Pace Jubilee Singers.

Friday, August 18, 2023


 Carnie Calahan is The Barker for Colonel Lane's Mammoth Circus, which hasht it big with a new attrac tion -- Belinda, the Bearded Lady.  Belinda has the longest and most beautiful beard of any hirstute lady who ever hit the big top, and customers are flocking in.  But Belinda is not only attracting customers; she's got the attention of grifter Swifty Norton, who spies an opprtinoty for some easy money.  Norton declares his love for Belinda but she is not that receptive until he tells her about the big money they can make at another circus.  Swift and Belinda run off and the Colonel sends The Barker to bring her back.  Belinda insists on staying with Swifty so the Barker has to come upo with another plan.  He heads to an escort agency and rents a handsome gigalo to pretend he is Belinda's husband.  In the confusion, The Barker grabs Belinda and takes her back to the Colonel's circus.  Then Belinda's wife and her two bearded kids show up.  Turns out Belinda is really Benny and the Colonel is out one main attraction.

Quicksilver, the masked acrobat of justice in a blue and white body suit (don't ask), watches as a window cleaner is shot dead on the top floor of one of the city's buildings.  Seeing a broken window across the street where the shot must have come from, he dives out the window and, with a few twists and turns, confronts the shooter.  But the shooter still has the gun and is not afraid to use it.  All Quicksilver has is his natural ability and his acrobat's rope.  Things don't go well for the shooter, who had already killed a lawyer before he shot the window cleaner (who happened to spy the crime).

Steve Wood, the waterfrom private detective has taken his secretary Sally fishing on the wharf.  Sally's line hooks onto a body, which turns out to be a dying ship's captain with a nasty knife wound.  Steve and Sally row out to the ship, only to be repulsed.  Undeterred, they go to the office of the boat's owner, who sloughs them off.  Through some juducious snooping throw a waste basket, Sally comes across proof that the ship is being used to smuggle narcotics.  The gang abpard the ship get the drop on Steve, but Sally pulls a gun on them as the police providently show up.  Steve congratulates himself on his detective work, while Sally says, "What about me?"  Steve says Sally helped by hook the kniofed sea captain with her fishing line.  Women!  They're just not appreciated in 1947!

Talk about not being appreciated.  Police detective Sally O'Neil was the one to gather evidence to arrest lady crime boss Lulette, but the captain has assigned Detective McTagg to escort the felon to the coast for trial.  A male cop wouold be better able to stop any atempt to free her, you see.  McTagg, handcuffed to Lulette, has accidently dropped the key to the handcuffs.  Sally recovers the key and hurries to return it to McTagg, but he and his prisoner have already boarded the train.  Before Sally can get to McTagg, Lulette's gang has captured him, but they cannot free Lulette with the key.  They head to a nearby blacksmith to free Lulette, followed by Sally.  Sally and the blacksmith defeat the gang, while McTagg is knocked silly, and Sally ends up delivering the prisoner to the coast anyway.

In Granny Gumshoe's latest case, her granddaught Lippy sees a dog digging just before s dogcatcher nabs the mutt.  Curious as what the dog was after, Lippy contnuies digging and pulls up a box full of money.  It seems that Jake Sleek, the embezzler who stole a million dollars from the bank, eldude the dragnet to meet up with Dr. Ripp, crazed underworld surgeon.  Ripp implants Sleek's brain and vocal cords into a dog.  As a dog, Sleek can remain undetected  while the police look for him.  It was Sleek as a talking dog that Lippy spied the crook digging.Granny gumshoe goes to the pound and encounters the talking dog and brings him home.  The plot is revealed, Ripp is arrested, and Sleek decides to remain a talking dog.  After all, they can't arrest a dog for embezzlement, and a talking dog can look forward to a future of fame and fortune.

There are a few other inconsequential stories in this issue, including a two-page text story about The Barker.

A very mixed bag.  Some interesting stories mixed in with some insipid ones.  You can't have everything.

Give this issue a try.  there may be something you like.

Thursday, August 17, 2023


 Beer!  Beer!  Beer! by Avram Davisdon  (2021)

Not really a forgotten book, more of a misplaced one, an unpublished novel found among Davidson's papers, now sent forth into the world with a minimum of editing.

Several things should be understood from the beginning, all of which are related in the back cover copy of the novel.  First, in large letters:  "AVRAM DAVISDSON IS ONE OF THE GREAT WRITERS OF THE 20TH CENTURY."  That, my friends, is no lie.  If there is any justice in the world, Davidson -- along with a few of his contemporaries such as Fritz Leiber and R. A,. Lafferty -- will be lauded, inspected, and disected by literary scholars of the future.  He's that good.   Second, "Beer!  Beer!  Beer! exists at the intersection of magical realism (just a hint) and historical fiction."  Don't read too much into this.  There is not a hint (or even a whiff) of magical realism here.  Aside from coming from Avram Davidson's pen, this is not a fantasy.  Nor is it historical fiction really, despite being set ten years into Prohibition and two years into the Depression.  What it is is a love song to an idiosyncratic time, place, and people of the city of Yokums, New Jersey, a fictional counterpart to Davidson's childhood Yonkers.  Third, "[T]he streets of Yokums representing the Yonkers of his youth in the 1920s and 1930s much in the way that the British Hidalgo of Lomekiller! parallels Belize,"  That said, buckle up.  You're in for a wild and joyous ride.

The Depression and Prohibition have done all it could to beat down the people of Yokums.  Poverty and unemployment are rampant.  City politicians -- besieged by unanswered pleas to lower taxes and to hire people -- are hanging on the best they can with a minimum of graft and bribery coming their way.  Many of the rivers and streams of old Yokums have been covered, making way for sewers.  the roads are in ill repair.  And there is a section (twenty square feet of it) of open sewer in the city on land that appears to have no known owner, property records being vague and sometimes missing.  People have been throwing unwanted trash into this open sewer, things that were never meant for a sewer -- mattresses, dead horses, old machines, anything and everything.  These items have blocked the sewer and have raised a literal stink, right behind one of the largest stores in the city.  Something had to be done and the politicians in power -- those who should have known better but didn't, those who should have been bribed but weren't -- order a crew to go into the sewer and clear the blockage.

Among the many things the crew found was a large pipe that did not belong there.  Pulling and straining, they managed to get is loose and from the pipe flowed an abundant and continuiong steam of beer.  They manage to get the still flowing pipe to the surface, where the citizenry soon crowd around with every type of container available from old vases to cups to empty hats, each person filling up their container to partake of the marvelous liquid.  Traffic is stopped, people appear from everywhere, the city's politicians stand in amazement, and the local chapter (North New Jersey Region) of the National Family Temperance Union (Mrs. Mary Mabel Moomaw, Regional Director, assited by Miss Birdie Shallot) stand ready to fight the good figh, maintain the Struggle against the Poison Trust and save humanity from the evils of the systematic degration brought about by vile alcohol.  Eventually the wellspring that came from the pipe stopped, but not before a well-meaning and clueless lower functionary informed the federal Prohibition task force of the pipe and its contents.

Enter the Feds, interested in whence the pipe came from and where it eventually went.  They followed the six thousand feet of pipe in one direction, which led them to several abandoned garages, the occupants having enough warning to clear out with all of their equipment.  Efforts to trace the pipe back to its source were not fruitful.  Further inspection of the sewer system revealed a second pipe (quickly disconnected), then a third (left in situ for the time being.  Meanwhile, Mrs. Moomaw had been marshalling her forces and, with the help of some religious leaders, managed to get the state to organize a grand jury and subpoenas were sent to all local officials.  The officials knew nothing but were aware that, somewhere along the line, someone was receiving $2500 weekly in graft for the beer pipes, but who that person was they did not know.  (Alas, the person(s) believed to be the beneficiary of this graft was not, and (double alas) so too were the many politicans who wished they were the recipients od said bribery.)

Behind the manufacture of the beer are Madoc Owen, a regional crime kingpin, Albert Stolz, the local crime kingpin, and Robert "sonny Boy"  Boykin, a younf lawyer who managed to wrest control of the National Cereals Company -- the only licensed (by the federal government) manufacturer of near beer in northern New Jersey; near beer was still being allowed for sale under the Volsted Act.  The managing director of National Cerals Company was the unassuming grain chemist Orpheus T. Brower, PhD, who had no idea that the company was used to make honest to goodness real beer.   Brower was an occasional writer of scientifiction who spent most of his time trying to perfect a mix for donuts.  (Think food chemist and science fiction writer E. E. Smith, whose career professional career involved the production of donuts.)

This is the main thread running through the novel, but the thrust of the book is the people of Yokums, the high and the low, the past and the present, all exquisitely detailed by Davidson in his leisurely, rambling style, sprinkled with a heavy amount of sly wit, local idioms, and regional dialogue.  Davidson's treatment of the people of Yokums is a pure delight as he deceptively carves out jewels of sentences.

Any description of Beer!  Beer!  Beer! would be inadquate other than to say it is pure Davidson.  And you cannot get any better than that.

Beer!  Beer!  Beer! is published by Or All the Sea with Oysters Publishing, set up by Davidson's godson Seth Davis to preserve the works of Avram Davidson and his onetime life partner Grania Davis (Seth's mother).  Among OATSWOP's other books is AD 100, a massive two-volume collection of 100 unpublished and uncollected stories by Davidson.  Check them out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023


Mystery Is My Hobby was a half=hour radio program recorded before a live audience and mainly aired on the Mutual Network.  The program was originally titled Murder is My Hobby; the first six episodes were carried by six stations on the Don Lee Pacific network, beginning in April 1945; it moved to Mutual on October 14, 1945 and ran until July 14, 1946.  The show was then revised and retitled and ran until 1951.  A television version aired on February 17, 1950 on WNBT-TV New York.

The program starred Glen Langdon (later known for the film The Amazing Colossal Man) as police inspector Barton Drake, who was also the author of the book Mystery Is My Hobby; Drake would collect material for his stories while solving crimes as a policeman.  (In the revised versi9on of the show, Drake was a mystery writer who worked with the police.)   At the end of each episode Drake would explain how he solved the crime (murder, blackmail, larceny, whatever) to the befuddled lawman and criminal alike...because "mysteryis my hobby."

"Allen Fisher Is Murdered" is an undated episode, most likely from 1947.  The episode is also known as "Faithless Wife."



"A Scandal in Montreal" by Edward D. Hoch  (first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 2008; reprinted in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2009)

Once again, the game is afoot, this time in the capable hands of Edward D. Hoch.  It's 1911 and Holmes has been contently retired in his Sussux villa with his bees for several years when he received an unexpected visit from Watson, also now retired.  A letter to Holmes from Canada had been delivered to Baker Street and Mrs. Hudson, unsure of Holmes's current address, entrusted it to Watson,  The letter was from Irene Adler, always the woman to Holmes.  Irene had been reported to have died some twenty years before, but Holmes had never given those reports credence.  Instead, she had married lawyer Godfrey Norton and had left England --perhaps as a result of her involvement in the Bohemian scandal.  They eventually relocated to Montreal where Godfrey established a successful law practice and had a son, Ralph.  When Godfrey passed away three years before, it affected Ralph greatly, although he eventually steadied himself, attending McGill University.  Ralph has now gone mjissing and police suspect him of murder.  Irene's letter pleaded for Holmes's help.

Holmes and Watson arranged boat passage and within a week were in Montreal, meeting with Irene.  An older student from Germany, Franz Faber, had been stabbed to death outside a bar.  A few days previously, Faber and Ralph had got into a fight over a fellow student, Monica Starr.  Faber had dated the girl briefly, but she soon  preferred Ralph.  The fight was over quickly and Ralph soon forgot about it.  When police arrived at the scene of the stabbing, however, the dying Faber was asked who had stabbed him.  Faber replied, "Norton."  When police arrived at Irene's house to question the boy, he had vanished.  Perhaps not coincidently, Monica Starr was also missing.

During his first year at McGill, Ralph had become close to one of his professors, the economist and humorist Stephen Leacock.  (Watson, ever loyal to Holmes, to an immediate dislike to Leacock after reading Leacock's satire on Holmes, "The Defective Detective;"  Watson felt that Leacock's portrayal of the great detective proved the humorist to be a "scoundrel and a slanderer.")  Anyway, Leacock said that Ralph needed some time away and the Leacock suggested his family cottage in western Canada.  Leacock, Holmes, and Watson travelled to the cottage, where they found Ralph.  And with Ralph was Monica, who was clearly pregnant in her third trimester.

A murdered student, a dying declaration, and the young suspect and his pregnant girlfriend fleeing to an isolated part of the country.  Will Holmes be able to save Irene Adler's son?

Edward D. Hoch was one of a few -- perhaps the only -- mystery writer to make his living writing short stories, publishing over 950 of them over his long career, about half of his total output appearing in EQMM, where Hoch had published a story in every issue from May 2007 until after his death in 2008.  ("A Scandal in Montreal"  was in the issue of EQMM on the stands the month that Hoch died.)  A master of inventiveness and of the "impopssible crime," Hoch created many notable detective characters over the years, including Nick Velvet ( a thief who would only steal worthless things), Jeffrey Rand (a spy master and cryptologist), Captain Jules Leopold (a homicide detective in fictional Connecticut city), Simon Ark (a coptic priest who claimed to be over two thousand years old), Ben Snow (a western character many thought greatly resembled Billy the Kid) Dr. Sam Hawthorne (a small town doctor who solved impossible crimes), Michael Vlado (a Romany king in present day Europe), Alexander Swift (one of George Washington's spies), and many others.  Hoch also published nine stories featuring Sherlock Holmes from 1973 to 2008.  To date, some two dozen collections of his short stories have been published, as well as five novels.  Hoch also edited the Best Detective Stories of the Year annual anthologies from 1976 to 1981 and The Year's Best Mystery and Suspense Stories anthologies from 1982 through 1995, in addition to four well-respected anthjologies.  He also won one Edger and two Anthony Awards, as well as an Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award.  He was named a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master and was awarded Life Achievement Awards from both the Private Eye Writers of America and from Bouchercon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023


She is, has been, and will always be, one of the brightest lights in my life.  She's a combination of guts, brains, humor, talent, and beauty.  Widowed early, she has managed to raise two of the most perfect women in the world (both of whom are also bright lights in my life).  To say that I am proud of all that she is and all that she has done would be a gross understatement.  I am so lucky that the women in my life have taught me the true meaning of love.

When she was born the doctor told Kitty it was a girl.  Kitty only spoke two words: "A girl."  The way that Kitty it -- the tone of her voice, her timber -- was something I had never heard before and never heard since.  I cannot put a punctuation mark behind those two words because none that exist come close to describing how she said it...not a question mark or an exclamation point.  How can a simple punctuation mark explain the joy, wonder, love, hope, and awe in Kitty's voice?  Something very special had happened to us at that moment and the way Kitty said those two words reflected that perfectly.  I will be forever grateful that Kitty lived to see the wonderful person Jessie has become and to see the awesomeness Jessie has instilled in her two daughters.

Happy birthday, Jessie!  I love you and everything you are.

Monday, August 14, 2023


 Schlockmeister Edward D. Wood subjected the film-going audience with many a p[itiful movie over his career, both as a writer and as a director.  Wood wrote but did not direct Orgy of the Dead; that task fell to erotic film director Stephen C. Apostolof, using the pseudonym "A. C. Stephen."  The Bulgarian-born director had produced the anti-Communist film (inspired by his own life) Journey to Freedom in 1957.  In America, Apostolof befriended Ed Wood, resulting in his first editorial credit, Orgy of the Dead.  (Wood would later novelize his film script for William Hamling's Greenleaf Classics; the 1966 paperback is almost impossible to get today.  Centipede Press released the novel in hardcover as the first in their Vintage Horror series with a list price of $45.00; it is currently being offered on eBay for $800.00.)

The plot is terrible.  Bob (William Bates) and girlfriend Shirley (Pat Barrington) head off to a cemetery to inspire Bob for his next horror novel.  there they encounter the dancing dead, overseen by the Ruler of the Dark, a.k.a. the Emperor (Criswell, a popular televised scam artist whose "predictions" gained a lot of press).  The "Dancing Dead" were (if I counted corectly) nine women who were individually billed as "Hawaiian Dance, Skeleton Dance, Indian Dance, Slave Dance, Street Walker Dance, Cat Dance, Fluff Dance, Mexican Dance, and Zombie Dance."  Oh. there was also a mummy and a werewolf.  Anyway, Bob and Shirley are captured, tied to a pole, and forced to watch the dancers.  The film engendered absolutely no Academy Award nominations.

The film is rated "R" so consider yourselves cautioned.  I doubt if the "R" rating matters because the movie will probably put you to sleep before we get to that part.

Consider this a Bucket List experience.  I would say, "Enjoy." but that would be facetious.

Sunday, August 13, 2023


 Flatt & Scruggs.

Friday, August 11, 2023


 Captain Video and His Video Rangers was an early science fiction program that aired on the Dumont Network from 1949 to 1955 for an estimated total of 1,537 episodes.  In addition, 20 episdoes of a fortnightly Saturday morning spinoff, The Secret Files of Captain Video aired from September 1953 through May 1954.  It was the first science fiction program to air on American television and proved popular with both children and adults.

The show was set in EArth's far future and was about a goup of fighters for truth and justice known as the Videp Rangers.  Their leader was Captain Video, who was never given a first name.  The Video Rangers were headquartered in a secret mountain base, location never given.  They received their orders from the Commisioner of Public Safety; their missions could taken them anywhere in the solar system, incuding space colonies on distant planets.

In 1951, Fawcett printed six issues of the Captain Video comic book feturing the "Famous Star of the Dumont Television Network."  The issue linked below is a British reprint of the Fawcett comic, with perhaps a different cover.  The indicia in this issue noted that it was copyrighted 1949 by Fawcett Publications, Inc. -- this was most likely an error confusing the comic book with the start date of the television show.  This edition -- the British one -- has 36 pages; the U.S. edition has 52 pages.  this edition also alternates two page of color, the two pages of black and white throughout the issue; I don't think this was the case with the U.S, edition.

We have two stories featuring the electronic wizard who is known as Captain Video:  "The Time When Men Could Not Walk" and "The Legion of Evil."  Sandwiched between these to stories is a western tale featuring Rod Cameron, a popular western star of the time, "The Gun Duel."  It should be noted that the half-hour television show featured some twenty minutes of Captain Video, filling the remaining time with old western films which Dumont has purchased intending to air them in their entirity and to be hosted by Captain Video.  Instead, these seven-minute fillers were touted, without explanation, as adventures of Captain Videos "undercover agents" on Earth.  Go figure. 

Enjoy these exploits of Captain Video and his young partner, the Video Ranger.


 Into the Silence by Basil Copper  (1983)

It is the end of 1929 and Warren (if he was given a first name, I missed it) has arrived in the village of Pentarth.  The location of Pentarth is kept deliberately vague; I had assumed it to be somewhere in Cornwall, but a single sentence about two-thirds through the book dispelled that notion.  Warren is a professional photographer and artist, as well as a surveyor; he has a moderate reputation for photographs and drawings made on various expeditions throughout the world.  He has been hired by a Professor Deems, a world renowned scientist (of what, we are not told; the deliberate vagueness throughout the book lends to the novel's atmosphere) who is attempting a major and secret project that involves tunneling deep into the ground.  Parker, Warren's predecessor, left the project suddenly and unexpectedly and Warren was hired to continue the work recording the project's progress.

About the project:  the tunnel runs deep into the ground, then takes a right angle and slowly descends through hard granite until it is well under the sea.  The end object of the tunnel is known only to Deems, who has an uncanny knowledge of where he is heading.  A monstrous piece of equipment called the Challenger Three is actually a submarine sized vehicle that can easily hold seven men and is outfitted with specially designed drills.  Deep in the tunnels there are shadows seen quickly out of the corner of the eye, then quickly vanishing -- large hulking shadows, then, later, fast-moving impressions of giant octopus-like creatures and large snakes.  Eventually, the granite runs out and the Challenger Three is plummited into a surry-like, bottomless ocean of mud and slime, still headed for its unknown destination.  Deems will only say that his ultimate goal will be of the greatest importance to the scientific world.

All of that is a separate plot thread that mostly takes place later in the book.  Back to the beginning.  Warreen's train had been delayed and he arrived at Pentrath station late; the coach that was to have picked him up had left hours earlier.  Warren then walked about a half-mile through the bitter cold to the town and the Blue Boar Inn, where Warren was to stay.  Arriving at the inn, he bumps into a familiar-looking man rushing to leave.  Warren is convinced the man is the exact likeness of a rector he had known in childhood while living in a small village not far from Pentrath, but the man had died twnty years before, in 1909, and Warren had attended the funeral with his father.  But the man Warren had bumped into appeared no more than 70 years old, while the rector from his youith would have been about 90 had he lived.  Still, the similarity preyed on Warren.  We soon learn that the man Warren had bumped into was the rector of Pentrath and was named Oswick  Streeter and had a little finger missing from one hand; the man from Warren's youth was also named Oswick Streete, and he to had a little finger missing from his hand.

There was also an odd atmosphere of menace about Penrath.  Warren made the acquaintance of the local librarian, Pamela Gordon, who told him that over the past few years, many locals had suddenly left the village, selling their homes and businesses to what she called "the aliens" -- outsiders who had no desire to become part of the community.  There had also been a number of strange deaths.

In visting the local church graveyard, Warren met the sexton, John James, a man who both appeared afraid of Rector Streeter and who hinted at strange goings-on.  James agreed to meet Warreen at the inn later that evening to explain.  He never appeared.  The next day Warren learned that James was dead; a grave that he was digging had collapsed on him and suffocated him.  Warren also found a cryptoc note indicating that Deems and Streeter were both involved in some type of mysterious activity.

Later, Warren and Pamela Gordon broke into the Streeter mausoleum in the cemtery at Castle Madoc, the village where Warren had been raised.  The vault that was supposed to hold the body of the dead Oswick Street was empty, but on the nearby floor was that manfled and ravaged body of Parker, Warren's predecessor at Deems's tunneling operation.

Also of note was K4, the designation of a bright red "star" that had appeared in the sky a few years earlier; the star -- although still bright -- appeard to be dying and would be extinquished soon. There was also an ancient story of a large meteor that hadf struck the area in the distant past.  At first warren thought the meteor would have something to do with the tunneling project, b ut the meteor could not have embedded itself in the earth as deep as the tunnel was going.

Into the Silence is a leisurely, atmospheric, Gothic-inspired adventure that channels, among others, H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James, and British and Celtic folklore.  For a brief while, it looked as though Copper had jumped the shark, but he skillfully managed to weave all the threads together into a quiet and typically Briitish cosmic tale of horror.

Basil Copper (1924-2013) is probably best-known for his stories continuing the adventures of Solar Pons, the detective created by August Derleth in honor of Sherlock Holmes.  Also in the mystery field, Copper wrote 52 novels about Los Angeles tough guy P.I. Mike Faraday, which were told in the first person with a British syntax.  He was also noted for his stories of the macabre, which led him to be given the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Horror Convention in 2010.  His six horror and horror-related novels (The Great White Space, The Cruse of the Fleers, Necropolis, Into the Silence, The House of the Wolf, and The Black Death) share an quiet atmospheric Gothic touch and are all highly recommended.

Into the Silence has never been reprinted since its original 1983 appearance as a Sphere paperback in 
Britain.  A quick check with Abebooks shows prices ranging from $60.00 to over $380.00.  Yikes!

Wednesday, August 9, 2023


Mankind has spread to the stars, encountering many civilizations, advanced and otherwise.  The civilization on the planet Firsk has one claim to fame -- the beautiful pottery produced there.  The pottery is noted for its exquisite glazes, which happen to be made from Firsk's ancestors.  But the interstellar demand is exceeding the supply.  What will happen now? 

Jack Vance's short story appeared in the May 1950 of Astounding Science Fiction.  It was dramatized on NBC Radio's Dimension X by staff writer Ernest Kinroy.  The episode was directed by Edward King.  Norman Rose was the anouncer and narrator.  "The Potters of Risk" featured Karl Weber, Wendell Holmes and Raymond Edward Johnson.  

Dimension X culled most of its stories from Astounding.  The show ran for fifty episodes from 1950-1951.  The series was later revived as X Minus One (1955-1958). 


Tuesday, August 8, 2023


 "Grand Guignol" by John Dickson Carr (first published in two parts in The Haverfordian, the literary magazine of Haverford College, in 1929; included in the third volume of Tony Medawar's Bodies in the Library [2020]; reprinted in Carr's The Kindling Spark:  Early Tales of Mystery, Horror, and Adventure, 2023, edited by Dan Napolitano)

From 1922 to 1929, beginning when he was fifteen years old, John Dickson Carr published at least thirty stories in his high school and college magazines.  In the recent The Kindling Spark, noted Carr authority Dan Napolitano collected nine of these amateur stories (a tenth was included as a separate chapbook to the limited edition of the book), tracing the development of the fledgling writer as he moved toward professional status; an additional nine pieces of juvenalia were included in Douglas Greene's collections The Door to Doom and Other Detections (1980) and Fell and Foul Play(1991).  Carr's earliest stories, despite being overly flawed, were a notch above most apprentice fiction, and over a period of seven years, culmulated in "Grand Guignol," a rather mature mystery novella that marked the end of his apprenticeship.  The following year, Carr substantially altered and expanded the story to formhis first novel, It Walks by Night.

"Grand Guignol" was presented as a "Mystery in Ten Parts." The first seven parts were printed in one issue of The Haverfordian, ending with a challenge to the reader and a blank page in which the reader could note the name of the character he suspected as the murderer; the final three parts were included in the next issue.

The time is 1927.  The place, Paris.  The scene, a miniature private casino in a discreet section of the city, complete with a rather poor jazz band in the background.  The detective, Henri Bencolin, the Mephistotilian prefect of police.  Carr had used Bencolin before in several of his earlier tales and the character had matured as Carr's writing did.  Bencolin would eventually be featured in five novels by Carr.  The narator is presumed to be Carr himself, an American friend of Bencolin's named Jack. ("Jack" was Carr's college nickname.)  The character of Jack morphed into Jeff Marle in It Walks by Night and other novels.

Bencolin was there because of a threat to Raoul, the fourth Duc de Saligny, a noted sportsman who had earlier that day married the former Louise Laurent.  Louise had been formerly married to Alexexandre Laurent, who had turned out to be a psychopathic killer.  After Laurent had attacked Louise with a razor and she had managed to subdue him, he was locked away in an insane asylum in Geneva and Louise was granted an anullment.  For the past two years she had been seeing Raoul and they finally got married, spending their wedding night at the casino before heading off for their honeymoon.  Six months ago, however, Laurent had escaped from the asylum.  He wa known to have his appearance alter4d by a plastic surgeon, whonm he subsequently murdered.  Laurent -- a consumate actor nd linguist -- could now be anyone; no one knew what he now looked like.  And he has vowed to kill Raoul.  Hence, the appearance of Bencolin at the casino.

While Louise was sitting with Bencolin and Jack, Raoul went to the casino's empty smoking room, saying that he would ring for a special cocktail.  After the bell rang, A waiter brought it into the smoking room on a tray, then exited immediately, shocked. and dropping the tray.  Raoul's decaptated body lay there, his hea posed several feet away.  There were only two entrances to the smoking room -- the one by the main salon that Bencolin himself had been watching, and one leading to the hallway, which was being watched by one of Bencolin's most trusted men.  A thorough search of the smoking rom had shown that there were no secret compartments or hiding places in the smoking room.  How had the murderer managed to escape?

As the title suggests, this is a grisly crime, later compunded by another murder and the discovery of a third body walled into a cellar.  The clues are fairly placed, as are the decptively clever red herrings.  The story hints strangly of Carr's future place in the history of detrective novels as the fair play master of the locked room. 

Also included arer some of the sly humor that would embellish Carr's later works.  Om' fairly fond of this scene where Jack's "charitable" landlady discovers "a couple of blood spots when I sent my dinner clothes out to be pressed, and became sympatheic to  such an extent that I hesitated to tell her that they had been caused by a severed head.   Madame Hirondelle is prone to hystrics."

An amateur story verging on professionalism, entertsaining even for someone not interested in the growth and maturity of a major figure in detective fiction.

I should note that Napolitano provides an excellent 68-page academic introduction to The Kind;ling Spark, as well as individual "Notes for the Curious" after each story.


Buffalo Stampede (originally released as The Thundering Herd, Paramount Pictures. 1933.  Featuring Randolph Scott, Judith Allen, Buster Crabbe, Noah Beery, Raymond Hatton, Harry Carey, Blanche Friderici, and Barton MacLane.  Directed by Henry Hathaway.  Written by Jack Cunningham and Mary Flannery, based in Zane Grey's 1925 novel The Thundering Herd.

This better than average B western opens with the lines "In the fall of 1874 there occurred pne of those wild rushes for sudden wealth that have characterized the American West.  This time it was the lure of buffalo hides, for which a rich commercial market had been developed.  The White Man again invaded Indian territory and ruthlessly slaughtered the buffalo herds of the Red Man.  Outfitting and shipping depots sprang up at strategic points.  Of theses, the most remote -- deep in the buffalo country -- was Sprague's trading post..      Zane Grey"

Clark Sprague (Harry Carey) runs a bufflo hunting group, while the unsrupulous Randall Jett (Noah Beery) runs another.  Jett's outfit gets most of its hides through unchecked thievery and wholesale slaughter of both Whites and Indians.  While Jett is despicable, bis wife Jane (Blanche Friderici) is even worse.  Their stepdaughter is the lovely Milly Fayre (Judith Allen), who loves Tom Doan (Randolph Scott).  Jett has incestuous designs on Milly (I said he was despicable, didn't I?).  Doan hopes to rescue Milly from Jett, and joins Sprague's outfit.  He is eventually able to hook up with Milly and they plan to run away that evening, but Jett comes across the pair, shoots Doan and beats the ___ out of him.  Neraly dead, it takes months for Doan to recuperate before he can try to rescue Milly.  In the meantime, Sprague's outfit, with Doan, face a terrifying buffalo stampede and an Indian attack.

Filmed in Yellowstone National Park, the film uses real-life buffalo along with older movie clips of a buffalo stampede.  Hathaway uses his camera to great advantage while capturing action scenes.  Great care wa used in detailing western life and the realities of buffalo hunting parties and wagon trains.  All in all, a very impressive movie.

This had Randolph Scott early in his career, sporting a pencil thin mustache (perhaps the only time he did).  Paramount evidently added third-billed Buster Crabbe to the cast merely for box office appeal -- Crabbe's character, a stage coach driver, appeared briefly in the beginning of the film and was never seen again.  The cast contained some of the more popular western stars of the day, but the most outstanding performance was that of Blanche Friderici as Jane Jett, an absolutely horrid character.

The film was retitled Buffalo Stampede for a 1950 re-release.  That is the version linked below.


Sunday, August 6, 2023


Kitty died one year ago today.

Had you told me then, I never thought I would make it this far.   The memory of her love, her laughter, her kindness, her compassion, her love of the world, and her faith in me have sustained me.  For over fifty-two years she had made me a better person and -- somewhere, somehow -- she continues to do so.

As I fumble now through the world, I can enjoy each day for its small blessings and great wonders.

And Kitty is still with me every day.


Openers:   The pink curtain hung within inches of his cheek.  J could imagine sly little fox ears, sharpening, the other side of the flimsy cloth where another human being could, if he chose, listen to every word.  There was no help for it.  J didn't find it appropriate to whisper all the way from Chicago to southern California. 

"Sophia?"  (He tried to sound like himself in spite of his sense of an eavesdropper.)  "Listen, don't meet the plane.  I'm not gong to on it."

His wife began to wail, and he interrupted.  "I'm in the damn hospital."

Sophia's voice changed immediately.  "What's the matter?" she demanded.

"Not a darned thing.  Ridiculous!  But I'm kinda trapped.  They won't let me go until to morrow."

"J, what happened to you?"  Sophia's concern sounded like anger.  It often did.

"All it was," he told her, "I almost got hit by a car, and do mean almost.  Skinned my knee.  Big deal!  Seems the old biddy who was driving the car is pretty much in the chips, and she's got me hemmed in by her doctors and her lawyers.  She doesn't want to get sued.  So here I..."

"J, shall I come?"  He could hear Sophia's mind checking off her chores.  Empty the refrigerator.  Call off the Neebys.

"No, no," he said.  "they've already gone over me, up and down and sideways.  I'd have one heck of a time developing a nice expensive injury now.  I'm supposed to settle.  Listen, I'm having the hotell change my nreservation to the same flight tomorrow.'

"J, are you sure>?"

"Sure I'm sure."  J relaxed because he could tell that shewas relazing.  "now, they insist they've got to take pictures of every bone in my hand, and it's a damned nuisance, but it's anyhow for free.  Thing nis, I can't get out of here till the doctors say so."

After speaking with his wife, J (no initial, please) Middleton Little, 49, a man as innocuous as his name, decided to take a stroll through the hospital.  When nhe returned to his room, he found that his former roommate had been moved.  A new roommate was there, old, very sick, and unconscious.  J went into the bathroom and soon heard another man enter the room.  His roommate -- who had no idea -- I was in the room, regained consciousness and began talking with his visitor.  Remembering his thoughts about being overheard whiloe J was talking to his wife, he decided tp remain quiet.  The roommate and his visitor, each believing they were alone, had a strange conversation which J could not make much sense of.  Something very important was being discussed, but what?

After the visitor left, J waited a few minutes, then exited the bathroom.  His roommate realized that J had overheard all, but was not sure if J realized exactly what he had heard.  His roomamte spun some sort of tale that the world was coming to an end and that scientists had prepared a spot on the moon for a few chosen survivors.  He offered J seven seats to the moon to be used by his family if J promised not to reveal what he had heard.  A part of J actually believed this concoction.  The problem was that J had ten people in his family -- wife, children, grandchildren, and in-laws.  Who would he chose to save?  and who will not be saved?

Whatever the actual story was, whatever J had overheard, hinted at a vast, important secret, and j Middleton Little unconsciously held the secret to a lethal timetable, bringing this unassuming man into a web of terror and destruction.

Charlotte Armstrong (1905-1969) held the throne of the queen of domestic suspense during her long career as a writer that produced 28 novels, two short story collections, and several plays and screenplays; an additional novel and a third collection of stories were published posthumously.  After writing two plays that did not fare well on Broadway, she turned to writing mystery novels, including three that featured detective MacDougal Duff.   The best-selling author won an Edgar Award in 1957 for her novel A Dram of Poison.  Two other novels -- The Gift Shop (1966) and Lemon in the Basket (1967) -- were also nominated for an Edgar, as were three of her short stories.  Eight of her novels were either serialized or abridged in major fiction magazines of the time.  Her novel The Unsuspected (1946) was filmed as Talk About a Stranger, and her novel Mischief (1951) was filmed as Don't Bother to Knock, a major vehicle for Marilyn Monroe -- and her first co-starring headlining role.  Of particular note is her short story "The Enemy," a powerful and unforgettable allegory sharply criticizing McCarhy era politics.

She used the pseudonym "Jo Valentine" for her 1953 novel The Troble in Thor and published her 1941 play Ring Around Elizabeth as "Char Armstrong."  Her common nickname throughout her life was "Charl."

Insight, strong characterization, and a tightening feeling of suspense were her trademarks.  Here she displays them well.


  • Charlotte Armstrong, Night Call and Other Stories of Suspense.  Kindle.  Posthumous collection of fifteen stories, none previously collected and two previously unpublished.  Patti Abbott recently resurrected ED Gorman's spot-on review of this collection, which see.
  • John Dickson Carr, The Kindling Spark:  Early Tales of Mystery, Horror, and Adventure.  A collection of early stories (including ones written in his high school days) plus a short detective novel about Henri Bencolin, Carr's first series detective, and a collection of seven sketches written with Frederic Prokosh, entitled "The New Canterbury Tales."  "From Little Acorns...Grow the works of extraordinary mystery writer John Dickson Carr.  This collection of early works of Carr includes Grand Guignol. "The New Canterbury Tales," and eight* other works of detection, mystery, and horror by the undisputed master of the locked room mystery.  Many of these stories have not appeared since their original publicarion and cover the range of mystery to horror.  Dan Napolitano, noted Carr collector and authority, introduces this collection and annotates each story, providing detailed information on the origin of Carr's works along with details on how each story would be used later in Carr's career."  The stories date from 1922 to 1929.  *The volume I have contains only nine stories; the tenth (referenced here) was included as a chapbook story accopanying the limited hardcover edition.
  • John Creasey, writing as "J. J. Marric," Gideon and the Young Toughs and Other Stories.  Collection of 134 stories about George Gideon of Scotland Yard, first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, 1969-1974.  "One of Creasey['s] most beloved series included Chief Inspector George Gideon of Scotland Yard, written under the J.J. Marric pen name.  The Gideon series was also the most lauded.  Anthony Boucher called Gideon's Day Creasey's best work.  HFR Keating included Gideon's Week in his 100 Best Crime and Mystery Books.  Mystery Writers of America awarded Creasey the Edgar for Best Novel for Gideon's FireGideon's Day was dramatized into a film in the late 1950s, and the books became a television series in the early 1960s.  Beyond his twenty-one novels, Creasey (as Marric) wrote a series of short stories featuring the /Chief Inspector.  These appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine nearly 50 years ago, and this marks the first time that all of these works have been compiled into a book."  Martin Edwards provides a lucid introduction to the tales, whiule Francis M. Nevins includes a short biographical piece about Creasey.  Creasey's son, Richard Creasey, offers a personal tribute in an afterward.
  • Bill Crider, The Blacklin County Files, Eight Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Gabby Darbins and the Slide-Rock Bolter (as by "Colby Jackson"), The Girl Who Wanted to Be Sherlock Holmes, Songbird (as by "Colby Jackson"), A Werewolf Named Wayne. "Death's Brother," "I Am a Roving Gambler:  Two Stories of the West," and "What a Croc!"  Phew.  that's a whole bunch of Crider.  I took a look at my Kindle file on my computer this week and discovered I had over 1500 titles, many of which I did not realize (or had forgetten) I had!  I decided I'd better start reading some.  But first...why not order some more?  I mean, there were a bunch of Bill Crider books and stories I had not read.  George Kelley may be George the Tempter, but Bill Crider is Bill the Tempting.  (BTW, I did have two unread Criders already on the Kindle:  the Rancho Diablo novel Dead Man's Revenge and the gorilla/gasbag mashup "Among nthe Anthropophagai!")
  • Carolyn Kepnres, You.  Suspense thriller, the basis for the Lifetime series.  "When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do:  he googles the name on her credit card.  There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City.  she has a public Facebook account and tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to knopw:  she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she'll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight -- the perfect place for a "chance" meeting.  As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of beck's life, he begins quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way.  Joe will do anything to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms -- even if it means murder."  I'm not sure where this one came from:  it showed up in a package from Amazon addressed to me.  I never ordered it and there was no indication who did.  Whoever sent me the book, thank you!  It sounds very interesting.
  • Sax Rohmer, The Voice of Kali:  The Early Paul Harley Mysteries.  Mystery collection thirteen short stories about Gideon Volume 3 in Black Dog Books' The Sax Rohmer Library, edited by Gene Christie.  "The Game's Afoot -- and Paul Harley's on the Case!  Meet Pauol Harley -- part Sherlock Holmes, part James Bond -- the man on whom the British gevernment depends to solve its most baffling mysteries.  Follow Harley as he reveals the awful secret behind the disappearance of a young girl and the bizarre disfigurement of a corpse,,,uncovers a sinister plot behind an assault on a gentleman's hat,,,locates the baffling hiding place of a Chinese crime lord...battles the bewitching Madame de Medici to unmask the deadly Black Mandarin...and struggles to find and destroy a scientific super-weapon before it can be deployed by an international organization."  The seven stories in this volume were originally published from 1920 to 1924.  Paul Harley was the main character in Rohmer's novels Bat Wing and Fire Tongue (both 1921). 
  • F. Paul Wilson, The Compendium of Srem.  Kindle Bibliomystery.  A brief tale from Wilson's Secret History of the World, which includes his Adversary cycle, his Repairman Jack stories, and the ICE trilogy.  The most evil book ever conceived has fallen into the hands of the Spanish Inquisition.
  • F. Paul Wilson, Scar-Lip Redux.  Graphic novel featuring Repairman Jack.  The last of the Rakosh, a shape-changing, flesh eating demon for the Otherness, still lives, even though Jack he had eliminated the entire race.  Jack now must end this evil once and for all.  The quest takes him to the Ozymandius Prather Oddity Emporium, the house of freaks which had been the Rakosh's last home, then to a multi-millionaire lottery winner who has weaponized the creature, and finally to the mysterious and haunted Pine Barrens, where Jack faces off with the preternatural beast wicho can only be destoryed by fire or iron.

Haggis:  By the time you read this, daughter Christina, granddaughter Erin, and Erin's boyfriend Trey will have landed in Scotland for a ten-day adventure.  I kept telling them they have to eat some haggis while there; they kept telling me if I insisted on that then I don't love them.  Perhaps instead of eating some, they'll be ableto capture a wild haggis -- a mythical bird-like creature with many legs; the haggis critter somewhat resembles a bagpipe, which is appropriate because the sound a bagpipe makes is supposedly just like the cry of the haggis.  Anyway, the link below takes you a site with a brief overview of the history of haggis and a recipe for making it!  (But, kids, don't try this at home!  Make sure there is an irresponsible adult present.)

Haggis II:  Here's an episode of the adult cartoon show Fugget About It titled "You Only 
Try Haggis Once,"  Needles to say, it's NSFW.  And there are some annoying commercials.  **sigh**

"Haggis is simply a novelty food.  People only try it once, usually under the influence of alcohol."

Yo-Yo Ma:   George the Tempter recently sent me some CDs by Yo-Yo Ma -- the perfect background (or foregroud) music for just about everything.

Here's his "Appalanchian Waltz."  Enjoy.

The Purple Heart:  241 years ago today, George WAshington announced the creation of the Badge of Militray Merit, considered America's first militasry decoration and the second oldest in the world after the Cross of St. George.  The award was only given to non-commissioned officers and privates and was the forerunner of the Purple Heart.

The badge was designed by Washington himself in the shape of a purple heart and was given for "not only instances of gallantry in batle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way."  This was thought to be the first time modern history that a badge was given to ordinary soldiers, and the general practice in Europe was to honor high-ranking solders who had achieved vistory, rather than common soldiers.  Washjington insisted, however, that the "road to glory in a patriot army and a free open to all."

Only three people received the Badge of Military Merit during the Revolutionary War and all were presented by Washington himself.:
  •  Sergeant William Brown (1759-1808) of the 5th Copnnecticut Regiment of the Connecticut Line.  Records no longer exist, but it is believed that the award was for his actions in assaulting Redoubt No. 10 in the Battle of Yorktown.  He received the badge on May 3, 1783, the same day as
  • Sergeant Elijah Churchill (1755-1841) of the 2nd Regiment Light Dragoons.  He was cited for gallantry in action at Fort St. George on Long Island in November 1780 and at Fort Slongo in Long Island on October 2, 1781.
  • Sergeant Daniel Bissell (1754-1824) of the 2nd Connecticut Regiment of the Connecticut Line received his badge on June 10, 1783.  Bissell served as a spy, joining the British Army for 13 months and passing intelligence information along to the Continental Army.  Under direct orders from Washington, Bissell posed as a deserter and then served in the British Infantry Corps led by Benedict Arnold.  Bissell also inspired Washington in the design of the Badge of Military Merit:  when dancing with his future wife at a ball, Bissell accidently stepped on her purple dress and ripped a piece from it; he then took the piece, folded it in the shape of a heart, and told his wife to hold onto it.  Washington heard the story and the rest is history.  Bissell's gravestone is inscribed, "He had the confidence of Washington and served under him."
Several others may have received the Badge of Military Merit in the Revultionary War, but no records exist.   Some sources claim that the badge that supposed was awarde to William Borwn that is now on display at the American Independence Museum in Exeter, New Hampshire, is actually a badge awarded to a fourth, unknown, person, and that Brown's badge had been lost sometime in the 1920s.

The Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the rEvolutionary WAr although it was never officially abolished.  In 1932 (on the 200th anniversary of George Washington's birth, no less), the War Department authorized the new Purple Heart Medal for soldiers who had previously received a Wound Chevron or an Army Wound Ribbon.  The Purple Heart was designated the official "successor decoration" to the Badge of Military Merit. The first Purple Heart was awarded to General Douglas McArthur, who had instituted work on a new design the year previous.  The actual design was done by heraldic expert Elizabeth Will; the final medal was chosen from a plaster model designed by John R. Sinnock of the Philadelphia Mint.

Until September 22, 1943, the Purple Heart was awarded not only for wounds in action but for "meritorious performance of duty."  With the creation of the Legion of Merit, the practice of awarding the Purple Heart for meritorious performance was discontinued.

In 2009. National Geographic estimated the number of Purple Hearts given, since World War I, to be 1,915,837.

Today, of course, is Purple Heart Day.

Celebrate!:  In addition to Purple Heart Day, today also marks National Sea Serpent Day.  (Erin is determined to find the Loch Ness Monster this week, but it won't be today; besides Scotland doesn't count on an American "national" day, and Loch Ness is not in the sea.  Too bad, Erin.)  It is also both National Lighthouse Day and National Beach Party Day (Annette, we miss you!).  Worth celebrating is Assistance Dog Day -- the Monday of International Dog Assistance Week, because dogs are amazing and assistance dogs are amazing-er.  (If a dog in a yellow vest comes up to you alone, follow it.  It means that the dog's owner needs help.)  I fully support National Raspberries and Cream Day (yum!).  I firmly believe that whoever designated today as Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day has seen me try to wrap presents.  Today is Professional Speaker Day and -- in Australia -- Aged Care Employee Day.

For those suffering from excesssive heat, Air Conditioning Appreciation Days (July 3-August 15) is still going on.  This is also National Psychic Week, but I'm sure they knew that without being told.  And, Pennywise notwithstanding, it's International Clown Week.

Birthday Guys 'n' Gals:   Celebrating birthdays today are Roman emperor Constantius II (317-361), whose troubled reign consisted of wars, civil wars, court intrigues, usurpations, and deadly family infighting; Alonso de Ercilla (1533-1594), the Spanish soldier and poet whose poem La Araucana is one of the greatest epics of the Spanish Golden age; "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1640), who -- rightly or wrongly -- has gone into folklore for her supposed vampiric tendencies and was purported to have killed hundreds of girls and women over a 20-year period and to have bathed in their blood in order to retain her youth; Sir Robert Dudley (1574-1649), expl;orer, shipbuilder and cartographer, who created the first atlas of sea charts in the world, Dell'Arcano del Mare -- Dudley also found enough time to father some 17 acknowledged children; Georg Stiernhelm (1598-1671), Swedish mathematician and poet who first applied the verse meters of ancient poets to the Swedish language, making him the "father of Swedish poetry," and writing the first importnt Swedish book of poetry, Musae Suethizantes in 1668). 

Those born in the 18th and 19th centuries include Muhammad Shah (1702-1748), 13th Mughal emperor of India, whose reign was marked by the rapid and irreversible decline of the Mughal empire; James Bowdoin (1726-1790), the second governor of Massachusetts, who was the first president and founder of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and had work with Benjamin Franklin on experiments with electricty --  Bowdoin College in Maine is named in his honor; American Major-General Nathaniel Greene (1742-1786), who took command of the Southern theater of the Revolutionary war and was known as "The Savior of the South" and "The Fighting Quaker;" Carl Ritter (1779-1859), German geographer and considered one of the founders of modern geography; From geography to geology, we come to Auguste Michel-Levy (1844-1911), whose pioneering work in geology included the Michel-Levy interference colour chart, which define the interferencecolors from differetn orders of birefringence; Alan Leo (born William frederick Allen, 1860-1917), English astrologer and theosophist, who has been referred to as "the father of modern astrology -- I won't bother you with my opinion of what a fetid, steaming pile of bovine excretment astrology is;  Henri Le Sidaner (1872-1939), Frech painter, some of his work is here  and here  and here; Mary Frances Winston Newson (1869-1959), American mathematician, the first female to receive a PhD in mathematics from an European university, and the first to translate Hilbert's problems into English; Mata Hari (Maragretha Geertruida Zelle MacLeod, 1876-1917), I think we know who she was; actress Billie Burke (1884-1970), Glinda the Good Witch of the North, Cosmo Topper's wife, and many others, she was wooed by Enrico Caruso and married Florenz Zeigfield; 
Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964), American labor leader, activist, Wobbly, and founding member of the ACLI, she was the inspiration of Joe Hill's 1915 song "The Rebel Girl."

Moving fcrward in time, we come to Broadway and film actress Ann Harding (1902-1981), nominated for an Oscar for her role in 1931's Holiday; paleoanthropologist and archaeologist Louis Leakey (1903-1972), whose work at Olduvai Gorge indicated that humans originated in Africa; Ralph Bunche (1904-1971), political scientist, diplomat, and an important voice in the Civil Rights movement, he won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize the first African American and the person of African descent to be awarded a Noble Prize; boogie-woogie pianist and bandleader Freddie Slack (1910-1965), he played the pino solo on "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar" and recorded Capitol Records first gold single, "Cow Cow Boogie;" Film Director Nicholas (Rebel Without a Cause, They Live By Night, In a Lonely Place, Johnny Guitar) Ray (1911-1979; Kermit Love (1916-2008), American puppeteer and esigned, best known for his work with The Muppets and on Sesame Street, he built Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird, helped create Cookie Monster, and designed Mr. Snuffleupagus, surprisingly, Kermit the Frog was not named after him; Songwriter Felice Bryant (1925-2003), who co-write "Rocky Top," "Bye Bye Love," and "Wake Up Little Susie," among pthers; Funny man, ad man, radio personality, and siu generis genius extraordinaire Stan Freberg (1926-2015), who once did a Sunsweet pitted prune commericial with his friend Ray Bradbury; Edwin Edwards (1927-2021), four-tern governor of Louisiana, found guilty on 2001 of racketeering charges and sentence to ten years in prison, but released after eight years; Betsy Byers (1928-2002), chjildren's author, Summer of the Swans won the 1971 Newbery Medal and Wanted...Mud Blossom (1991) copped an Edgar; James Randi, "The Amazing Randi" (1928-2020), magician and scientific skeptic who rightly exposed paranormal and pseudoscientic claims and kept the fraudsters on their toes; Edward Hardwicke (1932-2011), English actor who played Dr. Watson for eight years opposite Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes; Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017), best-selling science fiction author, early proponent of personal computers, espouser of right-of-center politics; Lee Croso (b. 1935), sports broadcaster and football analyst, and former college football head coach; Garrison Keillor (b. 1942), the Prairie Home Companion guy and best-selling author; B. J. Thomas (1942-2021), who sang "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head;" actor John Glover (b. 1944), Lionel Luther on television's Smallville; Alan Keyes (b. 1950), who ran for President in 1996, 2000, and 2008 -- he didn't make it; Jonathan Pollard (b. 1954), former U.S. intelligence analyst convicted of selling top-secret document to Isreal, sentenced to life in prison in 1987 and released in 2015;  WAyne knight (b. 1955), actor known for his role as Newman on Seinfeld, Don Orville on 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Paek; Bruce Dickinson (b. 1958) lead vocalist for Iron Maiden; David Duchovny (b. 1960), X-Files' Fox Mulder and Californication's Hank Moody; Peter Niven (b. 1964), retired British jump jockey who was the first Scotsman and sixth jockey to ride over 1000 winners, whenhe retired he was the only jockey to win five races in a day on four occasions; Jimmy Wales (b. 1966), co-founder of Wikipedia; Charlize Theron (b. 1975), South African actress, an Oscar winner for her role as Aileen Wournos in Monster; Abby Cornish (b. 1982), actress -- Bright Star, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and television's Jack Ryan; and Francesca Eastwood (b. 1993), one of Clint's daughters.

Florida Man:  On hiatus.  Our anti-woke, anti-education, anti-personal choiuce, anti-science, anti-fact, pandering, "slavery was good for Blacks" gvernor is taking a lot of fun out of it.

Good News:
  •  Molecule in breast milk could reduce cerebral palsy in infants
  • Group rescues dozens of silvery gibbons to return to the wild in the island forests of Java
  • Man helps barbers to fill their shops with books to get kids excited about reading
  • When boy asks strangers for yard work to save up for a new game console, they file a police complaint against him, so the cops but him a new PS5
  • Molecule that kills solid cancer cells while leaving other unaffected show promise after 20 years of work
  • She lost her fathers ashes but a stranger spends four hours digging through trash to find them
  • Woman spends three days crawling through storm drains trying to rescue puppies

Today's Poem:
The Lighthouse Keeper

In the lonely twilight hour,
Looking forth from his old tower,
When the sunset glow has faded in the west,
Then he sees the distant things
Steeped in purple of the kings,
While the breezes come to chill at night's behest.
Then the color from the air
Sinks to -- God but knows just where,
And the interval of deepened twilight grows;
But the gleaming streaks of light
From his tower of the night
Send their word to every ship that comes and goes.

-- Helen Emma Maring


 In a rather surprising cut, Chad & Jeremy channel the Rev. Gary Davis.

Friday, August 4, 2023


 Walt Kuhn's early cartoons of birds for Life, circa 1906.  

Kuhn would go on to be an important painter.  In 1913, he organized the famous Armory Show, which was the first large-scale introduction in America to European Modernism.  Kuhn's first exhibition in 1905 established himself both as a cartoonist and a serious painter.  He was noted for his memorable and arresting portraits of circus and vaudeville entertainers.  His paintings art part of most major American collections.

Kuhn's bird cartoons display finely lined detail and a wry sense of humor, reflecting human attributes both in drawing and character.

Enjoy this 1908 collection.