Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, November 30, 2023


Inspector West at Home by John Creasey (1944; revised, 1973)

Inspector (later Superintendent) Roger "Handsome" West was one of Creasey's most popular characters, featured in 43 novles from 1942 to 1978, as well as a hanful of short stories published in the 1950s.  Over the years West has grown from his Bulldog Drummond-ish character to a more mature police detective, relying more on the forces of Scotland Yard at his command.  Inspector West at Home was the third book in the series; Creasey revised it shortly before his death to place the book early in the post-War years; I suspect any other revisions Creasey made were slight.

It's his wife Janet's birthday and West had been allowed to leave the Yard early to celebrate.  Shortly before going out for the evening, his superior, Supentendent Abbott, arrives with a search warrant for Roger's home.  Roger has been accused of taking bribes and the evidence against him is damning.  Suddenly Roger finds himself an outcast, under suspicion by his fellow policemen and suspended from duty.  The bribes allegedly had begun about four months before with cash being funneled into a rarely used bank account, the deposits supposedly being made by Janet.

Now on his own, with no idea why he had been targeted, Roger fights to clear his name and to get to the bottom of a well-planned plot.  Helping Roger is his best friend and unofficial assistant in a number of Roger's case, Mark Lester.  (Lester was a regular character in the early West books; he was dropped as the series began to find its feet.)  The trail leads to a beatutiful society figure and her charity for war refugees abd its manager, the woman's wealthy dilittante husband, a vicious gangster on the rise, the murder of a police informant, a secretary caught in a blackmail trap, an international plot that included Nazi loot, the kidnapping of a cabbie, threats against Roger and his wife, corruption in Scotland Yard itself, a kickass army martial arts instructor, and Roger being physically beaten.  That's a lot to squeeze into a 202-page novel, and the pace of the book seldom lets up.  

All ends well, of course, and all loose ends are tied up.  The early West books are as much adventures as mysteries, and its interesting to see the characters in their nascent stages.  West has been married for just five years.  Janet, who discovers she is pregant in this book, takes a far more active role than in later books.  (In ;later novels, West would end up with two sons, called Scoop and Fish -- both based on Creasey's own children.)  Mark Lessing is a capable man of action -- the perfect assistant for this type of book, only to written out later.  As the series matured, West always ready to place himself in danger rather than have his men take risks; here, he acts more like a renegade, with little thought to danger to others.  From the beginning of his career, Roger West has always been incorruptable, and caring, devoted to duty and family, a white knight against the forces of evil; these characteristics never changed.

A fast, enjoyable action thriller-puzzler.  Nothing heavy, just something pleasant to pass a cold evening aay.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


From May to October 1951, James Monk played Japanese-American detective I. A. Moto for 23 half-hour episodes on N BC Radio.  Mr. Moto was the fictional creation of author John P. Marquand, who had been asked to create an oriental sleuth similar to Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan.  Moto first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post in the six-part serial No Hero, beginning March 30, 1935, before making his way to hardcover.  In the novels, Moto was a Japanese secret agent.  In the Moto films and on radio, he is an international law enforcement agent living in San Francisco.   Since the radio program aired in 1951, Moto's main focus was with fighting Communism, although he also dealt with crimes such as murder and blackamil.

In this first episode of the show, Moto faces a Communist plot destroy part of New York City with a portable atomic weapon.  Easly 1950s' zeitgeist, anyone?

Enjoy this (pardon the phrasing) blast from the past.


 " 'Gawky' for Guard" by Nelson S. Bond  (from Basketball Stories, Winter 1937-1938)

Nelson S. Bond (1908-2006) is best remembered for his science fiction and fantasy short stories, including "Mr. Mergenthwerker's Lobblies" (Scribner's Magazine, November 1937) which was adap[ted to radio at least half a dozen times, as well as running as a 1938 radio series, and was televised three times; Bond went on to write three additional stories about the Lobblies.  Bond also produced scripts for radio, television, and the stage.  He was named a Nebula Author Emeritus in 1998 for lifetime achievement in science fiction.  In the 1940s, Bond made regular appearances in The Blue Book Magazine, contributing stories bout about his series characters Pat Pending aand Squaredeal Sam McGhee, as well as many standalone tales.  In addition to science fiction and fantasy stories, Bond publishd over 60 stories in the sports pulp magazines. including Ace Sports Monthly, Dime Sports Magazine, Real Sports, Sports Winners, Champion Sports Magazine, Bull's-Eye Sports, 12 Sports Aces, Sports Action, Ten Story Sports, Thrilling Football Stories, Popular Sports Magazine, Baseball Stories, and Football Stories.  

Bond retired from writing in the late Fifties, concerntrating on his burgeoning antiquarian book business.  He served on the Board of Governors/Board of Directors of the British North American Philatelic Society.  He was a correspondent with James Branch Cabell and briefly served as Cabell's literary executor after Cabell's death.

" 'Gawky' for Guard" was Bond's third sports story, and was the lead story in the first (and apparently only) issue of Basketball Stories, a Fiction House magazine edited by Malcolm Reiss, who would edit over 25 pulps magazines in his career, including Action Stories and Planet Stories.

The cover blurb pushed the story:  "A big awkward kid -- the campus laughing-stock.  But on the court he was cat-smooth and fate-sure."

And the actual story blurb goes: "They built Dan Carter from a clumsy hayseed into the flashiest, hottest hoopster in the Central Conference.  Presto-ed him into a fair-haired wonder -- then played him for the prize sucker of all time!"

Pop Brighton's twenty-year career as basketball coach for Midland College is in jeopardy.  He hasn't given the school a championship teram, or even a contender, and the alumni and the Athletic Council are not happy. for the past six years.  Not that Pop hasn't got some quality players, but there is a weak spot on his team -- he lacks a decent guard.  As he explained to Betty Carruthers, the daughter of his best friend who is now a coed at Midland, he needs a guard with a quick eye, sure hands, and a smooth stride on the floor -- without that, this would surely be his final year as coach.  Betty, who practically grew up, watching Pop's team, wished she could help.

Betty has caught the eye of Dan Carter, a shy and extremely awkward student from the sticks.  Dan wished he could be a college athlete, but his attempts on the baseball, track, and football teams all ended in disaster, which earned him the nickname "Gawky."  And he now has forsaken any idea of sports to concentrate on his studies.  Betty, however, sees some raw potential in Dan.  She once saw him make an impossible catch on the football field during a game, only to trip over his own feet.  Awkward as Dan might be, he does have sure hands.  And she once noticed him to be amazingly graceful on the dance floor at a mixer, so he can have a smooth slide on the floor.  She suggests that Dan join the basketball team, but has has been b urned once too often in college sports and refuses.  But Dan wants to see more of Betty and she tells him that all of her frfee time will be spent with Pop and his team, os in oerder to get close to Betty, Dan finally deicides to join the squad.

To the surprise of Pop Brighton and the entire team (but bnot the reader), Dan is good on the court.  Really good.  Betty feels a bit ashamed that she used her looks and Dan's obvious crush on her to lure him to the team.  Hal Gordom, the three-letter star forward of the team and Betty's reguar date for the past year, becomes jealous of Dan at the same time Betty gets tired of Hal's overbearing manner.  Dan has made an enemy on his own team.  Hal's warring attitude aginst Dan is infecting the team.  Betty breaks down and tells Hal that she had used Dan's feelings for her to trick him into mjoin the team to save the season for Pop.  Hal realizes that, for the good of the team, Betty must ciontinue to lead Dan along for the rest of the season; he eases up on Dan and the squad begins to mesh together and win games.  Betty, meanwhile, is torn.  She is beginning to like Dan a lot, which is something she had not planned on.

Now the Midland Five is working like a well-oiled machine and appear to be a cinch for the Conference title.  But what will happen when Dan finds out about Betty's deception?  And will Betty ever realize her true and burgeoning feelings for Dan?  The season rests on these two questions.

A good example of the typical sports puilp story of a time when there seemed to be a pulp magazine aimed at every possible interest on the newsstands.  There's nothing earthshaking here, but Bond does keep the pages turning.

The /winter 1937-1938 issue of Basketball Stories is available online.  It also includes stories from prolific pulpster William R. Cox, Harold M. Sherman, Ted Fox, Linton Davies, Glenn Long, Harry goldberg, and the pseudonomynous house name "John Starr," as well as three articles, all signed by probable pseudonyms that had been use for sports ariticlaes over the years.used

Monday, November 27, 2023


 Full disclosure:  This movie does not live up to its tagline "The most intriguing baffler of them all."

John Miljen (The Ten Commandments, Torchy Runs for Mayor, The Fallen Sparrow) stars as Bill Holt, a famous detective on vacation, who gets invited to a swanky party and encounters murder, blackmail, and gangsters.  One of the suspects is Jane Maxwell. played by beauty queen Irene Ware (Chandu the Magician, Night Life of the Gods, The Raven).  Character actor James Burtis (The Case of the Howling Dog, Charlie Chan's Courage, The Return of Jimmy Valentine) is comic foil Jeff, Holt's housekeeper/right hand man/assistant.  Also in the cast are Iris Adrian, Noel Madison, Oscar Apfel, Barry Norton, Harry Holman, and Betty Blythe.

All in all, an interesting mystery and an effective time-passer.

Directed by Frank R. Strayer (The Vampire Bat, Gorilla Ship, The Ghost Walks, and a dozen Blondie movies), from a script by John W. Krafft (Here's Flash Casey, Foreign Agent, The Deerslayer).  Based on a novel by Norman Lippincott.

Murder at Glen Athol has also been released as The Criminal Within.


Sunday, November 26, 2023


Openers:  Twenty-four chester stree was a rooming house.  Every morning at eight, weather permitting, the old woman from Room 4 stepped out on the portch, dragged a wicker chair to the railing and sat.

This one morning she didn't show until eight-thirty.  She stood for a moment wheezing the fine spring air into her lungs and patting her frizzy hair.  then she patted her cheek, dong it gently, as if the bright color of her face gave her pain.  she dragged the wicker chair to the railing and sat.

The old woman had a trick she dis with her upper lip, curling it back and giving a frightful view of her false teeth.  that happened every f minutes, like clockwork, except this time.  she suddenly got up from he chair, not quite fast enough, nd vomited.

At a quarter to nine the two girls from Roon11 found her there on the porrch.  the old woman started to twich a little when they dragger her back into the house, and by the time they had her under the light thathung by the staircase she was struggling to get free.'

"Lemme go, for heaven';s ske, lemme -- "

"Mrs. Tucker, you fainted.  Lie still now, Mrs. Tucker."

"gt your hands offen me, you!  I never been sick a day of  my life.  Ge your hands offen me," and she startd to screech the way she al;ways did.

They left her sitting on the stairs, under the twenty-five watt bulb, becaus they had to be at worl ten minutes later.

-- Stop This Man! by Peter Rabe (1955)

Mrs. Tucker doesn't realize it, but she is the victim of radioactive poisoning.  Three-time loser Tony Catell ha stolen a gold ingot from a univesity science lab, not relaizing that is was part of an experiemnt involving nuclear power, and thet the gold was dangerously radioactive.  Now the police and th FBI are after Tony and he has no place to go and the ingot he is dragging arund with him is leaving a trail of radiation sickness and death.  One thing Tony knows:  he is not going back to jail because he will be facing the electric chari.

Peter Rabe (1921-1990) was the author of over thirty books, mostly paperback original crime fiction, starting with Stop This Man!  He "had a clear and lucid style, and other than his series books, neve wrote to formula or wrote the same book over and over...He was a subtle writer , and the dialogue and choices made by his characters show them off in unusual ways...He zigs when most witers would zag which makes even his stock characters look interesting."  Luckily for today's readers, a number of his novels have been reprinted by Stark House, nd they are highly recommended.


  • James Lee Burke, Crusader's Cross.  A Dave Robicheaux novel.  "A deathbed confession from an old schoolmate resurrects a story of injustice, the murder of a young woman, and a time in Robicheaux's life he has tried to forget.  Her name may or may not have been Ida Durbin.  It was back in the innocent days of the 1950s when Robicheaux and his brother, Jimmie, met her on a Galveston beach.  She was pretty and Jimmie fell for her hard -- not knowing she was a prostitute on infamous Post Office Street, with ties to the mob.  Then  Ida was abducted and never seen again.  Now, decades later, Robicheaux is asking questions about Ida Durbin, and a couple of redneck deputy sheriffs make it clear that asking questions is a dangerous game.  With a series of horrifying murders and the sudden appearance of Valentine Chalons and his sister, Honoria, a disturbed and deeply alluring woman, Robicheaux is soon involved not only with the Chalons family but with the murderous energies of the New Orleans underwoorld.  Also he meets and finds himself drawn into a scandalous relationship with a remarkable Catholic nun."
  • Avram Davidson & Grania Davis, The Boss in the Wall:  A Treatise on the House Devil.  Fantasy, completed by Davis after Davidson's death.  "Professor Vlad Smith is on a terrifying quest, one that will take him from the halls of our most hallowed institutions to the most run-down of old houses in blighted neighborhoods.  A mysterious committee, a deguerrotype of a Confederate soldier, a headless corpse and a corpseless head...These are the clues which Smith must piece together to save his sanity and his daughter, and uncover the terrible secret of the Boss in the Wall."
  • E. Everett Evans, Alien Minds.  Science fiction.  "The ability to read minds is a mixed blessing, so learns George Hanlon, Secret Operative of the Inter-Stellar Corps.  His unique gift helps him with his assignments, of course -- except that he has a lot of trouble with alien minds.  He encounters a whole planet of alien minds on Estella when the semi-human inhabitants of this Earth-like world of another sundecide that they want nothing to do with the Federation Planets.  Hanlon's investigations lead him into complications and troubles, all of which contribute to the entertainment of this tale of intrigue on a distant world."  Typical mid-50s SF, a sequel to the author's Man of Many Minds.  Also, The Planet Mappers, another mid-50s SF adventure, this one winning the Boys Club of America annual award for the most enjoyable book.  The adventures of a family mapping planets 62 lightyears from Earth.  And, The Undead Die & Other Weird Tales, a collection of nine fantasy and science fiction story, including most of the fiction from the Evans tribute anthology Food for Demons.  The title story is a 1948 collaboration with Ray Bradbury.
  • Lee Goldberg, Calico.  Detective novel.  Disgraced former L.A. cop Beth McDade finds a chance at redemption on the Barstow, California police depart.  there, she is confronted with a century-old skeleton dug up from a shallow, sandy grave, and a vagrant run over and killed by a distracted driver during a violent lightning storm.  There's been a lot of positive buzz about this book, which wqas released on November 7.  Then, two days later and under my radar, this title was released:  Crown Vic.  Collection of two crime stories about Ray Boyd, "an ex-con traveling the open road in a used, black-and-white, Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor.  Ray is the anti-Reacher. He doesn't help people in trouble.  He helps himself.  Goldberg reminds of Max Allan Collins, simply because he's a talented writer who publishes so many books I can't keep up; but it's fun trying.  In an effort to keep with Goldberg, I also picked up Diagnosis Murder:  The Waking Nightmare, the fourth book in the television tie-in series.  Mark Sloan is faced with three problems:  a patient who has survived cancer twice, but insists on continuing her self-destructive behavior; a young woman who jumped out of a fifth floor window as Mark was watching, and now he must keep her alive while trying to learn why she tried to commit suicide; and a magazine publisher who was stabbed in the chest while in mid-air during a skydive.  Which now gives me seven of Goldberg's books on Mount TBR.  O, frabjous day!  Callooh!  Callay!
  • Chris Grabenstein, Whack a Mole.  A John Ceepak mystery.  "An innocent discovery on the beach in Sea Haven leads John Ceepak, the cop with an unshakable code of honor, and his rookie partner, the twentysomething wisecracker Danny Boyle, into the hunt for a long-dormant serial killer who might be crawling out of his hiding hole to strike again.  Like the relentless rodents in the Boardwalk arcade game, gruesome clues keep popping up all over the island as Ceepak (the former soldier who will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor tolerate those who do) finds himself up against an adversary with an even stricter code, a code he rigidly enforces.  When the killer targets his next victim, the consequences become dire for Ceepak and Boyle.  This is a game they have to win!"
  • Nigel Kneale, The Old Woman with All the Cats.  An unpublished short story discovered among Kneale's papers in 2022.  Kneale is perhaps best known as the creator of Quatermass, the protagonist of a series of BBC television shows (and related films) in the 1950s.  Tomato Cain, his 1950 Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection of 29 stories is highly recommended.
  • Dean Koontz, Ricochet Joe, suspense novella.  "Joe Mandel is a perfectly ordinary guy from a perfectly ordinary town -- a college student and a community volunteer who dreams one day of publishing a novel.  When a series of strange intuitions leads him to a crime in progress. Joe jumps headlong into danger without hesitation.  In the aftermath, he wonders about the uncanny impulse that suddenly swept over him.  Until new friend Portia Montclair, the strangely wise daughter of the local police chief, explains to him what sent him ricocheting around town like a crazy pinball.  Portia tells of another reality, a reality more thrilling -- and terrifying -- than Joe ever imagined.  Timeless, elemental forces of good and evil have come to the quiet town of Little City:  a cosmic entity capable of infecting human beings, and the seeker who has chosen Joe to find it.  To stop the malevolent invader, this average Joe must be braver than he ever thought possible...and face the hardest decisions of his life."  Also, The Neighbor, a short story prequel to the novel The City, originally included as a bonus tale in a trade paperbeck edition of The City.  In the darkest hours of the night, a very secretive new neighbor moves in next doo to the Pomerantz family.
  • Frank Owen, A Husband for Kutani, a collection of four oriental fantasies, including "Doctor Shen Fu," the first in a brief series about a Chinese alchemist who possesses the elixir of life.

Bonus Imcoming, Small Business Saturday Edition:  So Saturday I decided to spread the little money I don't have among local small business.  Specifically, local used book stores:
  •  Peter S. Beagle, I See By My Outfit.  A 1964-5 account of Beagle's 3000-mile journey with a friend across America on motor scooters, back in the day when he was a "bearded non-beatnik."
  • Amber Benson, Death's Daughter.  Fantasy, the first in the Calliope Reaper-Jones series about a girl who is (you guessed it!) Death's daughter.  "For the last few years I'd been in a state of bliss -- living under a self-imposed Forgetting Charm, because I so did nor want to go into the family business.  What I wanted was a glamorous career in New York City and the opportunity for a normal life -- buyng designer shoes on sale, dating guys from craigslist, Web surfing for organic dimsum for my boss.  And then my father's Executive Assistant, a faun named Jarvis, showed up to tell me that my dad had been kidnapped.  Good-bye, Forgetting Charm.  Hello, (unwanted) responsibilitity.  Not only am I expected to step into the CEO slot on the company Board, but I have to 'prove my worth' by competing against the Devil's protege -- who's so hot on more weays than one.  The contest involves finding three (why is it always three?) objects of power in Hell.  One of them is this adorble puppy -- who happens to be a hellhound.  The others are turnig out to be not much fun.  All this so I can take (unwnted) charge of Death, Inc.  My name is Calliope Reaper-Jones, and I'm Death's daughter."  Benson is also the co-creator of the nimated web series Ghosts of Albion with Christopher Golden.  If the actress, producer, and director looks familiar, that may be because she played Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer for three years.
  • Nicolas (yes, that's how he spelled his first name) Bentley, Inside Information.  Crime novel,  "For a clever man, Dufferin had made an idiotic decision.  With only four months left to serve, he had decided that the food in Dartmoor was getting him down.  Back outside he's back in trouble.  A gold bullion heist seemed like another good idea, at the time..."  Bentley, the son of E. C. Bentley and godson to G. K. Chesterton, was an author, illustrator, and cartoonist (he illustrated T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, among others) who published more than 70 books in his career.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions (translated by Andrw Hurley) and Selected Non-Fictions (edited by Eliot Weinberger and translated by Esther Allen, suzanne Jill Levine, and Eliot Weinberger).  Two heft collections of Borges's work.  Fictions contains 101 stories; Non-Fictions contains 162 essays, articles, reviews, lectures, prologues, and other pieces.  Heft stuff, but Borges is worth it.
  • Ben Bova, The Sam Gunn Omnibus.  Science fiction collection with 50 tales of Sam Gunn:  "A man with the ego (and stature) of Napoleon, the business acumen of P. T. Barnum, and the raging hormones of a teenage boy, Sam is the finest astronaut NASA had ever trained...and dropped."
  • Peter Brandvold, The Romantics.  Western novel from Mean Pete.  "The daughter of a Hispanic landowner, Marina Clark, has been given a map that purports to lead the way to a hidden cache of Spanish gold.  To her husband, Adrian, his beautiful wife and her map are the keys to restoring his family's fortunes and honor, both lost during the Civil War. The Clark's guide through sun- and sand-blasted lands of what will one day become the American Southwest is Jack Cameron, a deadly shot who has won fame as an Indian scout.  It should be an easy trip. assuming they can avoid marauding Apaches and greedy Mexican rurales.  But the Clarks are not the only ones seeking the gold.  Gaston Bachelard, a former Confederate Army officer turned bandit, is hot on the Clark's trail, eager to use the Spanish Gold to fuel a revolution in Texas.  Bachelard will kill anyone who stands in his way."
  • A. Bertram Chandler, John Grimes:  Reserve Commander.  Science fiction omnibus containing the books The Last Amazon, The Wild Ones, and Catch the Star Winds, plus six uncollected John Grimes stories; and, John Grimes:  Rim Runner, an omnibus containing the books Into the Alternate Universe, Contraband from Outer Space, The Rim Gods, and The Commodore at Sea; and, John Grimes:  Survey Captain, an omnibus containg the books The Broken Cycle, The Big Black Mark, The Far Traveler, and Star Courier.  The Grimes stories take place out on the Galactic Rim, where strange things happen, including visits to other dimensions.  The Grimes series (23 novels and several collections of short stories) is a subset of Chandler's larger Rim World series.  Chandler was a ship's officer and his tales often tale the form of nautical stories in space, ususually with a distince Australian flavor.  I find his books both imaginative and irresistable.
  • "Francis Clifford" (Arthur Leonard Bell Thompson), The Hunting Ground.  Suspense thriller, a "novel of intrigue in a Caribbean police state...[it] begins with a spectacular plane crash -- a crash that never made the headlines. that no one talked about, that might never have happened.  Except for one inadvertent witness who photographed the victims and found he was IT in a breakneck chase, running for his life."  Clifford penned 18 novels, including two that won the Crime Writers Association Silver Dagger Award; two of his novels were also short-listed for the 
    Edgar Award.  Probably his best known novel was The Naked Runner, the basis of the 1967 Frank Sinatra movie.
  • Lester Dent, Lady to Kill, mystery, a Detective Book Club edition, also containing Phoebe Atwood Taylor's Punch with Care and Erle Stanley Gardner's The Case of the Borrowed Brunette.  The Dent involves a business deal gone bad, an elaborate corporate conspiracy, a woman who is not who people thinks she is, an attempt to girll a young physician's assistant, and killers on a train.  Dent, of course, was the legendary pulpster who wrote most of the Doc Savage novles under the house name "Kenneth Robeson."  The Taylor was the penultimate (.1946) novel about the "Codfish Sherlock," Asey Mayo.  The Gardner was the 28th book in the long-running series about attorney Perry Mason.
  • Stanley Ellin, The Blessington Method and Other Strange Tales and Kindly Dig Your GRave and Other Wicked Stories.  Mystery collections with 10 and 9 stories, respectively.  Ellin was a legendary and talented mysery short story writer.
  • Paul W. Fariman, Smile When You Say That.  A Western comedy.  "Peter was just a boy growing up in the Old West, until his fun-loving 'mother' and swinging 'sister' made a man out of him."  Fairman ws a lower-tier writer and editor on many genres, including science fiction, fantasy, suspense, erotica, juveniles, and tie-ins.  He was the founding editor of If Science Fiction (leaving after four issues) and Dream World (which lasted for three issues), spent two and a half years editing Amazing Stories and Fantastic, and was the managing editor of EQMM for five years. We wrote the main body of the Ellery Queen/Jack the Ripper mash-up A Study in Terror a number of the lesser Lester del Rey science fiction novels.  Farmer also penned five volumes of the bottom-feeding Man fron S.T.U.D. series.
  • Roger Garis, My Father Was Uncle Wiggily:  The Story of the Remarkable Garis Family.  A memoir of witer Howard Garis and his wife Lilian, authors of more than a thousand books.  Garis wrote the syndicated Uncle Wiggily stories -- nearly 15,000 episodes, as well as many ju vnile series books for the stratemeyer sydicate, including the first 35 Tom Swift novels, ,most (if not all) of the Motor Boys series, the Motor Girls series, the first six volumes of the Great Marvel series (Five Thousand Miles Underground, By Air Express to Venus, etc.),  the Rocket Riders series, a Don Sturdy novel, a Radio boys novel, the Baseball Joe Series, the Campfire Girls series, the Mystery Boys series, the Daddy series, the Two Wild Cherries series, the Rick and Ruddy series, the Those Smith Boys series, the Venture Boys series, the Larry Dexter series, the Three Little Trippertots series, the Tom Cardiff series, the Circus Animal stroies, the Curleytops series, the Buddy series, the Teddy Series, the Happy Home series, and the Outdoor Girls series.  Garis had been credited with writing the Bobbsey Twins series, but these were actually written by his wife and writing partner, Lilian, wrote also the Let's Make Believe series, the Girl Scouts series, he Nancy Brandon books, the Barbara Hale books, the Ted books, the Cleo books, the Connie Loring books, the Judy Jordan books, the Sally books, the Gloria books, the Joan Books, the Melodie Lane series, (I have a feeling I am omitting a lot of books) -- Howard and Lilian Garis were the mosr prolific children's authors of the twentieth century.
  • "Andrew Garve" (Paul Winterton), Home to Roost.  Mystery novel.  "The whispering voice on the telephone had reported a corpse.  and, indeed, the police found Max Ryland, film star and womanizer, pinned to his floor with a knife.  Suspects abound; and first among the is Walter Haines, for the irresistable Ryland had stolen, then abandoned, Haines's beloved wife.  A highly successful writer of detective fiction, Haines now confesses to the crime -- but is he, or is he not, telling the truth?"  Winterton also wrote as "Roger Bax" and 'Paul Somers."
  • Christopher Golden & Thomas E. Sniegoski, The Nimble Man.  Fantasy/horror novel, the first in the Menagerie series.  "Buried behind the facade of a stately Boston brownstone, humanity's last defenses are being marshaled.  Called to action by the enigmatic, brilliant man known only as Mr. Doyle, they hail from all planes of existence and are born from an array of supernatural and otherwordly backgrounds and bloodlines.  But as the group struggles to come to terms with their shadowy pasts, personal demons, and conflicting loyalties, their greatest challenge awaits them.  Together, they will confront the minions of utter darkness, who have already begun their quest to resurrect the most malevolent of the fallen angels -- whose wrath against mankind knows no bounds."
  • William Golding, The Inheritors.  Prehistoric fiction from the Nobel Prize winning author of The Lord of the Flies.  This one concerns the extinction of one of the last remaining tribes of Nenandethals at the hands of Homo Sapiens.
  • Martin H. Greenberg & Bruce D. Arthurs, eds., Olympus.  Original fantasy anthology of 17 stories concernig the various Greek gods.
  • Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers, eds., Black Cats and Broken Mirrors.  Fantasy antholgy of 17 stories covering both the light and dark sides of superstitions.
  • Lee Hoffman, Trouble Valley.  Western.  "The Widner brothers had come a long way, through badlands and deserts, to deliver a wild herd of  mustang to Harry Boswick's ranch.  All they wanted now was to collect the fifty bucks a head they'd been promised.  Problem was, before he could pay them, Boswick was dead.  Now Gus Widner found himself the unwilling investigator of a bullet wound intended for him..."  Aong with science fictio and romance novels, Hoffman wrote seventeen westrns, winning a Spur Award for The Valdez Horses, which was adapted into the 1973 Charles Bronson-Jill ireland films.
  • Harold Lamb, Theodora and the Emperor:  The Drama of Justinian.   Nonfiction about "the shepherd boy and the circus girl who forged the mighty empire of Byzantium from the ruins of barbarian-ravaged Rome"  Lamb was a popular writer of historical aventure fiction who also penned eight highly regarded biographies of historical figures, as well as ten popular books of history.
  • Brian Lumley, Hero of Dreams.  Fantasy, the firts of Lumley's books set in H. P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands.  "Parallel worlds!  Earth, created out of universal chaos, and the Dreamlands, spawned of the dreams of men.  But where dreams turn to nightmares, Death is the only crossing-point...Ex-waking worlders David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer are now sellswords in that ephemeral dimension called Dreamland.  Once a talented artist of the fantastic, now Hero's art is the wizardry of swordplay.  Once a lecturing professor, now Eldin professes a knowledge of the dark, mysterious Dream Realms second to none.  A formidable pair!  But face to face with Yibb-Tstll and the Gaunts of Night, the Eidolon Lathi and her brood, and the mad, alien First One who plots to set free dreaming Cthulhu from eons-old imprisonment...what can mere men do?"  This one could be really interesting or a total train wreck.
  • "Whit Masterson" (Robert Wade), The Man With Two Clocks. Suspense thriller.  (The Masterson byline was originally used by Wade and Bill Miller, who also wrote as "Wade Miller;"  Bill Miller died in 1961, and Wade continued alone -- including for this 1974 novel.)   "Michael Grail had to prove that he was not a traitor.  One day Grail was driving to Mexico, convinced that he was the luckiest man alive.  Healthy, solvent, in love with his beautiful wife Dory, he had not a problem in the world.  He would never feel that way again.  For suddenly, it was all changed.  He became the victim of a mysterious abductio...and the beneficiary of an equally mysterious rescue.  Then he had his first session with our government security agents and their inexplicable questions.  The search for the answers would send Grail on a strange and terrible mission to a place few men visited.  Here, without allies, he would be pitted against dangerous enemies, knowing that his nation's needs were far more important than his own survival."
  • James Reasoner, Death Head Crossing.  Western.  "Death-Head Crossing is just the name of a little town in Texas -- until the population starts shrinking one body at a time.  But the deaths are as mysterious as the face of the murderer, and only gunslinger Hell Jackson has what it takes to ride through the reign of terror and put an end to the killings...Jackson also gets an unwanted partner:  Everett Sidney Howard, a cub reporter from New York City looking to make a name for himself riding alongside a famous gunman.  Together the two face a gauntlet of dangers from rustlers, night riders, and more unexpected foes, as they close in on a murderous gang that'll stop at nothing to get what they want."
  • "Peter Saxon" (house name originally used by W. Howard Baker; the author of this novel is unknown), The Enemy Sky.  World War I air adventure of the Royal Flying Corps, the third and final book in the series.  ""The bright red of the Flight Commander's ribbons streamed from the main braces of Captain Frank Thompson's Sopwith Pup.  It was his first command:  an offensive patrol deep into Germany.  Suddenly he saw the dark shape of a Hun Albatros far below in the enemy sky.  Instinctively he knew it was a trap; but young Cardew was caught in it -- and the jaws were closing fast.  Frank signalled the attack.  Then he throttled back and half-rolled the Pup to pull out of the vertical."
  • "Hampton Stone"  (Aaron Marc Stein, who also wote as "George Bagby"), The Corpse Was No Bargain at All.  Mystery novel.  "While sunning himself on the terrace of his Manhattan apartment, Mac, of the New York D.A.'s office, can't help but notice the couple on the terrace across the way.  They are behaving in a manner more suitable to the bedroom than a sun terrce.  But as Mac soon learns, there's considerable method to their madness.  What appears to be innocent, if rather public, dalliance, is in fact a clever attempt to establish an alibi for a murder that's happening fifty miles away.  It's the start of a confusing case, and Mac and his fellow Assistant D.A. and partner, Jeremiah X. Gibson, uncover some bizarre (and lurid) details before they come to an unexpected solution."  Stein, with over 100 novels to his credit, was named a MWA Grand Master in 1979.
  • Louis Trimble, Crossfire.  Western.  "When Rand Stewart came home after four years in th Army of th West, he found things different in Silver River Valley -- His father was murdered.; rancher had turned against rancher; Rand's best friend couldn't meet his eye; the sheriff was a drunken bartender...Alone, against heavy odds, Rand stewart fought for his land and for Law and Justice in Silver River Valley."  A mid-list (or lower) writer, Trimble penned a number of science fiction, mystery, and western novels through his career, some under the pen name "Stuart Brock."
  • Richard S. Wheeler, Aftershocks.  A novel of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.  And, Rendezvous.   Western, the eighth novel in the long-running series featuring mountain man Barnaby Skye.  And, Vengeance Valley.  Western novel of siver mining in the San Juan Mountains.  Wheeler was one of the best writers of historical western novels in the past fifty years. His books were meticulously researched and unfailingly interesting.  He was the 2001 recipient of the Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions to Western literature and a six-time Spur Award winner.

A Busy Day:  November 27 was a busy day in history.  Sadly, not all of it was on the side of the angels:
  •  Byzantine emperor Maurice (539-60) ruiled the empire for twenty years after being chosen as the heir and son-in-law if his predecessor, Tiberius II.  Tiberius had been a popular and generous ruler whose generosity had drained the coffers of the empire.  Maurice's reign was marked by constant warfare.  A successful general, he defeated the Persians, greatly expanding the eastern border of the empire.  To the north, he pushed the Avars across the Danube and became the first Roman emperor to cross the Danube in over 200 years.  To the west, he established two semi-automonous provinces, including one in Italy which helped stop the advances of the Lombards.  He created the Exarchate of Africa in 591, solidifyng the power of Constantinople in the western Mediterranean.  These miltary and political victories came at a great price, creating financial problems for the empire -- which had already been shaky because of the previous administration of Justinian II.  This led to Phocus, a dissatisfied military officer to usurp the throne, and on this day in 602, Maurice was forced to watch as Phocus executed his six sons before he himself was executed.   The death of Maurice led to a 26-year war with Persia which left both empiresweak and ripe for eventual Moslem conquests.
  • On this day in the year 1542, the Palace Women's Uprising in the Ming Dynasty was held.  Sixteen palace women conspired to kill the Jaijing Emperor.  One legend has it that the emperor, a doaist who believed greatly in divination and alchemy, prolonged his life by drinking a mixture that contained the menstral blood of female virgins, aged 13 and 14.  The girls were fed only mulbery leaves and water; if any fell ill, they would be cast aside.  Some feel that this cruel treatment led to the u prising.  Another legend has it that the emperor had been given a "longeity turtle," painted in five colors, which died.  Furious, the emperor ordered his lower concubines to collect the morning dew from the banana trees in his garden.  (This was a long-held practice of the Jaijing Emperor, who like the flavor of the dew.)  A number of his concubines became ill because of the morning cold.  Meanwhile, the Imperial concubine Wang Ning was spreading rumors against the emperor's favorite concubine Consort Duan, claiming that Duan was actually a malevolent fox spirit who  had enchanted the emperor and was invoking the wrath of heaven.  When the Jijing Emperor discovered this, he order Wang Nng to collect the morning dew as punishment.  Wnag Ning conspire with other dew collectors to kill the emperor in Duan's quarters, saying that the death of the turtle wa a sign that the emperor had lost Heaven's favor because of his relationship with Duan.  Whatever the reason, the palace women caught the emperor in Duan's quarters and attempted to strangle him.  Word of the plot got to the Empress Fang, who rushed with the palace eunuchs to arrest the women and revived the emperor.  The Jaijiung emperor spend several days in a coma and, when he recovered, he discovered that Fang had had all the conspirators -- and the Consort Duan -- executed by slow slicing.  Fang also had ten mebers of the women's families beheaded and a further twenty enslaved and given to ministers.  (Morale:  Do not pipss off the Empress Fang.)  The emperor was upset that Fang had executed his favorite concumbine and, when there was a palace fire in 1547, he refused to rescue Fang and she burned to death.  Meanwhile the emperor did not stop his practive of drinking menstrual blood.  Over the next few years, he recruited 300 girls between the ages of 11 and 14 as new palace women.  Five years later the lower age limit was reduced to 8 and 200 additional girls were recruited.  By 1555, another 150 girls under the age of eight were recruited to make the menstrual blood potion.  The Jaijing Emperor died in 1567 at the age of 60; who is to say whether the blood potion worked?
  • November 27, 1835, James Pratt and John  Smith were hanged in London.  they were the l=ast two persons to be executed in England for sodomy.  They were allegedly arrested after being spied on through a keyhole having sex in the rented room of William Bonill by the building's landlord, who had grown suspicious because Bonill had had many male visitors.  (Although Bonill was not present, -- he had stepped out to buy a jug ale, he was transported to Australia as an accessory to the crime.)    There has been some modern doubt cast about the actual crime.  The keyhole in question offered a limited the view and some of the acts decribed by the landlord and his wife (who also had a gander through the keyhole) were physically impossible.  At the trial, Pratt had a number of witnesses vouching for his charactr (no witness came forward for Smith, though).  The couple were found guilty of section 15 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1828 (which had replaced the 1533 Buggery Act) and were sentenced to hang.  bonill was given 14 years of penal transportation; at the time Bonill was 68 years old was likely not to serve his full sentence.  The magistrate at the trial, Hensleigh Wedgewood, later complained that poor men were more apt to suffer under this law than rich men, who could post bail and then flee the jurisdiction.  Although deeply religious, Wedgewood actually believed that gay se was not harmful.  nonetheless, he adhered to the law and pronounce the deth sentence on the two men.  (At the time, there were seventeen individuals who had been sentenced to death during the September and October session of the Central Criminal Court; on November 21, fifteen of them -- none of whom had been convicted of sodomy -- had their sentences remitted under the Royal Perogative of Mercy.  Pratt and Smith, despite many pleas for mercy, including those from the landlord and his wife whose keyhole spying had led to the arrestwere hanged.  Charles Dickens, in Sketches by Boz, included an account of his visit with the accused in Newgate Prison.  Both Pratt and Smith were posthumously pardoned in 2017 under the Alan Turing law -- something I am sure the two appreciated.
  • This day also marks the anniversary of the 1868 Battle of the Washita River (or the Washita Massacre) in Oklahoma under troops commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.  Custer's 7th U.S. Cavalry, which numbered 574 soldiers, attacked the winter camp of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle.  Supposed, Custer's scouts had found the isolated camp by tracking an Indian party that had attacked settlers.  Black Kettle and his people bad been at peace and were seeking peace.  Custer and his men were led to the camp by a group of Osage, the traditional enemies of the Cheyenne; the Osage did not take part in the battle; instead they watched the proceedings frombehind the color-bearer of the 7th Cavalry.  The camp held an estimated 150 warriors; the total population of the camp was estimated to be 250 persons.  Estimates of the casualties varied greatly.  Civilian scouts reported that from 16 to 140+  warriors were killed, as well as from "some" to 75 women and shildren were killed; Cheyene estimated had from 11 to 18 men killed, as well as from 17 to 'many" women and children were killed.  The "official" count had from 13 to 150 killed and 53 womwn and children captured.  Army casulatied were 21 killed and 13 wounded.  Black Kettle and his wife were shot in the back and killed as they tried to flee.  Was this a battle or a massacre?  Custer himself did not believe it was a massacre, saying he did not kill every Indian in the village and that his forces could not avoid killing a few women in the middle of a hard fight.  Many disagreed.  The arguments continue to this day.
  • On this day in 1924, the first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.  The large balloon of Snoopy was not present.
  • And in 1965, the Pentagon tolf President Lyndon Johnson that, in order for plans for the Vietnam conflict to succed, American troop presence would have to be increased from 120,000 to 400,000.  We know how well that worked.
  • San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated on November 27, 1978 by former Supervisor Dan White.  White's eventual trial led to the creation of the "Twinkie defense," which argued diminished capacty due to depression cause by sugar-laden junk food.  White was sentenced to seven year's imprisonment under a reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter; his conviction led to both the White night riots and the abolition of California's diminshed capacitycriminal defense.  Moscone's successor, Diane Feinstein, was the first female mayor of the city, a post she held for the next ten years; she would go on to become a United State senator until her death earlier this year.  Milk became recognized as a gay martyr.
  • In 2001, the Hubble telscope detected a hydrogen atmosphere on the exoplanet Osirisin the constellation Pegasus, some 157 light-year from our solar system, , marking the first atmosphere detected on an exoplanet.  Both Hubble and the James Webb telescope continue to bring new and exciting findings about our universe.  We are truly living in an age of wonders.
  • A mass shooting in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs left three dead and nine injured in 2015.  the ttacker, Robert Lewis Dear, Jr., surrendered and was later found to be incompetent to stand trial and was ordered to be indefinitley confined to a colorado state mental institution, where he remains.  Both mass shootings and anti-choice violence remain a plague on our country.
  • Today is also the birthday of Buffalo Bob Smith (1917-1998), the host of The Howdy Doody Show.  Here's a 1958 episode of the show:  It is also the birthday of musician Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970): and and

Consider:  "Do more than belong:  paticipate.  Do more than care:  help.  Do more than be fair:  be kind.  Do more than forgive:  forget."  -- William Arthur Ward

Want to Know How to Get Along with Women?:  Here, hold my beer while I link to the Decmebr 1942 issue of Cosmopolitan, in which actress Ann Southern explains it all:

Today's Joke -- Your Laughter Mileage May vary:  I love going outdoors.  It's so much easier than going out windows.

Herbie Popnecker -- The Movie!:  Yes, fans!  It's the Fat Fury as he faces his old enemy, Ticklepuss, the cave girl onsessed with Herbie!

And here's all you need to know about Herbie:

Florida Man:
  •  A marriage is usually a joyuful occasion, but for Florida Man Cody Wiggins, 29, it led to his being accused of shooting his spouse and his brother-in-law following a wessing in Franklin, Tennessee.  Details are sketchy and the conditions of both victims is unknown, but Wiggins has been charged with attempted homicide, agrravated assault, aggravated domestic assault, and tmpering with evidence.
  • An unnamed 11-year-old Florida boy, a student ay Umatilla Middle School in Lake County, is in hot water after making a false bomb threat in class.  He was, he said, inspired by a reent trend on TikTok.  Evidently to get points, you have to yell out the statement.  In August, three students in Kentucky made simlar bomb threats after watching videos posted on TikTok.
  • If you want to do something, you should go all the way.  At least that seems to be the feeling of Florida Man Cory hill, of Orange County.  Hill is being charged in the shooting death of his wife, Shakeira Rucker, whose body was found days later in a storage shed.  Three hours after alledgedly killing his wife, Hill drove to his ex-girlfriend's home and attemped to kill her.  Evidently, neither the ex-girlfriend, Angel Milligan, nor Rucker were aware of Hill's relationship with each until recently.  Rucker's body was discovered days after Hill had been arrested for shooting Milligan, following compaints of a bad odor coming from Hill's storage shed.
  • 36-year-old Florida Man Donovan Matthews of Palm Coast, was arreested following a road rage incident that began with a thrown cup of coffee during an argument at Chick-fil-A restaurant.  Needles to say, the argument did not happen on a sunday.
  • Not-a-Florida-Man Adam Sandler is starring as a cranky old lizard in a soon to be released Netflix movie set in a Fort Myers elementary school, because when you think cranky old lizard, you automatically think of Florida.
  • Florida Thanksgiving was celebrated vertically by riders on the Rip Ride Rocket at Universal Studio in Orlando as the rolloer coaster remained stuck in a vertical position for nearly an hour.  No injuries were reported, nor was it rported how many Thansgiving dinners were lost.  The ride fetures a 175-foot verticle lift followed by a series of loops, twist, and turns. 

Good News:
  •  Police give motorists a Thanksgiving surprise by handing out turkeys instead of tickets
  • Mom channeled her teminal cancer into debt-relieffundraiser -- wiping out $65 million in medical debt
  • Wendy's worker saves customer's life
  • Hero truck driver saves choking woman who showed up at construction site
  • Seven swimmers owe their lives to Australian teens on boogie boards -- two rescues in one week
  • College project spurs students to establish orphanges for homeless kids in the Philippines
  • A scan of 27 million compounds identifies a new one that outperforms pain medications

Banana Pudding:  November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month.   Here's a handy recipe that will up a four-quart dish (or about one serving if you like banana pudding as much as I do):

Today's Poem, Because It Also Happens To Be Turtle Adoption Day Today:

My Green Sea Turtle

wonderful slick shell,
Brown and golden, the color of a shell.
That perfect shaped shell.
The shell of my turtle I know too well.

You are the greenest.
The most bravest.
And fastest (I think)
And maybe the smartest too.

You slick and slide,
And glide on by,
The water is what you love.
And you swim in the water, like a dove in the sky.

-- Danielle Deason


 Dolly Parton.

Friday, November 24, 2023


 Today is Small Business Saturday.  All the big guys got the attention yuesterday on Black Friday, but now's your chance to help the little guy!

If you like comic book books, visit you local comic book store.  If you like to read, there's usually n nindependent book store near you.  Drop in on a local gift store or craft store for some great gift ideas.  Interested in something bigger, try your local appliance store.  Hungry?  The restaurant of fast-food joint doesn't have to be a franchise, or, if it's a franchise, check to be sure the owner or leasee is local.  Small business is the heart of your community.  Please support them.

In the meantime, here's an Australian "rip-off" of The Phantom.  this issue is undated, but the comic book ran for 54 issues from 1954-1961.


Thursday, November 23, 2023


Design for Great-Day by Alan Dean Foster & Eric Frank Russell  (1995; an expansion by Foster of Russell's novella "Design for Great-Day" (Planet Stories, January 1953; Russell's novella was reprinted as "The Ultimate Invader" in The Ultimate Invader and Other Science Fiction:  Stories from the Four Corners of Time, edited by Donald A. Wollhem, 1954; also as "The Ultimate Invader," the novella was included in Major Ingredients:  The Selected Short Stories of Eric Frank /Russell, 2000)

Eric Frank Russell (1905-1978) was a major science fiction witer of the 1940s and 1950s, Russell's first novel, Sinister Barrier, was the cover story for the inaugural issue (May 1939) of Unknown, the legendary fantasy magazine edited by John W. Campbell, Jr.  (Legend has it that Campbell created the magazine in order to publish Russell's story, although there has never been any evidence of that.)   Other popular and influential science fiction novels by Russell include Dreadful Sanctuary (1948), Sentinels from Space, (1953, based on his 1951 story "The Star Watchers"), Three to Conquer (1956, based on the 1955 serial "Call Him Dead"), Wasp (1958), Next of Kin (1959, based on the 1958 story "The Space Willies," which in turn, was an expansion of the 1956 story "Plus X"), and The Great Explosion (1962, based on the 1951 novella "...And Then There Were None").  His story "Allamagoosa" (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1955) won the first-ever Hugo Award for Best Short Story.  Other notable short stories include "Jay Score" (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941), "Metamorphosite# (Astoudning Science Fiction, April 1949), "Hobbyist" (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1947), "dear DEvil" (Weird Tales, May 1950), "Diabologic" (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1955), and "The Waitabits" (Astounding Science Fiction, July 1955).  Russell's sort stories were reprinted in most of the major science fiction anthologies of the 1950s, and well into the 1960s.  He was only the second UK author to regularly appear in Campbell's Astounding, and many readers believed him to be an American author.

Much of Russell's writing was influenced by Charles Fort and the "we-are-property" theme appears in a lot of his work.  But Russell was also known for his wit, which was evident in many of this stories for Campbell.  He also was  a major exponent of Campbell's favorite theme -- the competent Earthman who pulls one over on alien races, something that was evidenced in "Design for Great-Day."

Alan Dean Foster (b. 1946) is a popular science fiction writer who has published some 75 novels, including the long-running Humanx Commonwealth series, as well as over 40 tie-oin novels and collections (he ghosted the original Star Wars novel for George Lucas, for example).  Foster credits his love for an interest in science fiction to Russell's original "Design for Great-Day" story.  The expansion of this story into a novel is Foster's homage to Russell.

A strange small space ship appears on the distant world.  Its occupant is an Earthman, James Lawson.  With his are some intelligent bee-like creatures.  They are representatives of the Solarian Combine, a federation of beings clustered around several solar systems in a near-by galaxy.  These beings (of many physical types) have joined together in harmony to promote peaceful travel through space.  That is their only stated concern; idividual planets may fight and destroy each other if they wish -- just do not bring their wars and weapons into space.   Unfortunately, in this galaxy there are two interstellar empires who have been warring for centuries.  It's Lawson's job to see that they stop.  Or else.  Of course, Lawson will not resort to physical violence to achieve peace, but he and the members of the Solarian Combine are advanced enough that they do not need to.

Weaponless, armed with only his wits and his skill at persuasion (and with the support of the many races of the Combine), Lawson goes head to head in a battle of wits against the Great Lord Markhamwit, who as, a powerful warlord, cannot be convinced that Lawson was not sent as a ploy from his interstellar enemies. 

The result is a biting commentary on the stupidity of was and -- even more so -- onj the stupidity of the leaders of war.

All of this must be taken with a grain of salt, of course.  The dumb aliens all react as dumb humans might because in this universe human motivtion and human greed are the norm, no matter what form an alien might take.  That's all part of the science fiction game of the Fifties, which is what this book essentially is.  It's all great fun and the reader just has to sit back and enjoy the uncritical ride.

My basic problem with the book is that it really isn't needed.  It pads the original story, and doing so, lessens it.  The book reads well, but...

Why mess with something that worked?  And worked well.  Stick with the original story, which -- as with Foster -- also blew me away way back then.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023


 Wishing all a prosperous and meaningful Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023


     "The Surgeon of Souls" by "Victor Rousseau"  (Avigdor Rousseau Emanuel) (a series of 12 short stories, most appearing first in Seven Points Daily Journal, 1910-1911; 10 of the stories, plus one new on, appearing monthly in Weird Tales, September 1926 through July 1927; the complete series published as The Surgeon of Souls [2006; limited to 200 copies, with an introduction by Mike Ashley]) 

Dr. Ivan Brosky si a scientist who believes that "a certain persentage of all cases of mental derangement was due to actual usurptation of the body by discarnate spirits.  These, he explained, attempting to come into physical relations with the external world without the happening of birth or the slow disciline of childhood, could not achieve normal relations, and their confusion of apprehension resulted in the incarnceration of the bodies which had appropriated."  To prove his point, Brodsky once, in 1908, "succeeding in curing nearly 200 out of some 350 patients in the Stafford county asylum."  For Brodsky, reincarantion is a given:  "[C]haracter is not the creation of a moment; the character of each of us is the product of millions of incarnations, beginning with the unicellular ameba and ending God knows when, where, and how.  Some eocene pig may be the ancestor of a gourmand, some dog of the loyal soldier, some lynx of the crafty.  Death does not preceptibly modify the character; in fact, it brings it out the more stongly, the artificial circumstances of life being removed."

To today's reader, much of this is goobledygook, but when the stories were written, spiritualism was a popular fad, psychiatry was still (and may still be) uncharted waters, and hypnotism  was both over-hyped and misunderstood.  That was enough for pulp writer Victor Rousseau to write a series of weird tales about Brodsky, who became known as "the Surgeon of Souls."  Each of the dozen stories is a short, bare bones, account of Brodsky's cases, where usually faith and hypnotism prevail.  As strange as each case was, the writing style remained mundane and subdued; each unique case was more important tot he reader than Rousseau's approach.

A typical story was "The Legacy of Hate," the third written and the fourth to appear in Weird Tales.  Here, Brodsky takes on the case of Rita Durham, a beautiful young woman who has become both homocidal and suicidal.  As a child she was pledged to Philip Richepin, a native of Louisiana.  Philip's ypiunger brother, Ralph, falls in love with the girl and she reciprocates.  Thay day before the intended wedding to Philip, Ralph and Rita elope, returning to break the news to Philip.  Philip senses what has happened, and, in a rage tries to shot his brother.  When that fails, Philip puts a bullet through his own skull.  Philip's spirit does not realize he is dead and inhabits Rita's body, forcing Rita to act on both homicidal and suicidal impulses.  Brodsky mus convince Philip that he is indeed dead and to convince the spirit to forgive his brother and his former fiance.  For some reason, it takes about a week for Brodsky to carefully set the stage for this encounter,  Brodsky's plan works.  Philip moves on to a hgher plane after forgiving the two, Rita is cured, and the young couple are able to now start their lives together.  All that happens in the last few, somewhat rushed, paragraphs.

The stories [listed in order of their appearance in Weird Tales, where some had appeared out of their original publication order, as noted]:

  • "The Case of the Jailer's Daughter" (from Weird Tales, September 1926)
  • "The Woman with the Crooked Nose" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, September 30, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, October, 1926)
  • "The Tenth Commandment" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, November 11, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, November 1926)
  • "The Legacy of Hate" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, October 28, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, December 1926)
  • "The Major's Menagerie" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, November 25, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, January 1927)
  • "The Fetish of the Waxworks" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, December 9, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, February 1927)
  • "The Seventh Symphony" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, December 23, 1910; reprinted in Weird Tales, March 1927)
  • "The Chairs of Stuyvesant Baron" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, January 20, 1911; reprinted in Weird Tales, April 1917)
  • "The Man Who Lost His Luck" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, January 6, 1911; reprinted in Weird Tales, May 1927)
  • "The Dream That Came True" (from Steven Point Daily Journal, February 17, 1911; reprinted in Weird Tales, June 1927)
  • "The Ultimate Problem" (from Stevens Point Daily Journal, March 3, 1911; reprinted in Weird Tales, July 1927)
  • "Homo Homunculus" (dated February 3, 1911, presumably from Stephens Point Daily Journal, although this story is not listed in the Fiction Mags database; not reprinted in Weird Tales; available in the limited edition of The Surgeon of Souls, 2006)

The author, Victor Rousseau (1879-1960), was a British journalist who used the proceeds of his first novel to sail to America in 1901.  There he wrote syndicated children's vignettes and other stories, articles of regional interest, workee on Funk & Wagnell's Jewish Enclyopedia. and worked as an editor for Harper's Weekly.  In 1913, he moved to Canada and wrote several Canadian-themes serials which sold well wen they were published in hardcovers.  In 1914, he wrote the science fiction novel The Messiah of the Cylinder, which took three years to be published.  In 1915, he wrote the book The Sea Demons, published under the pseudonym "H. E. Egbert" (derived from an earlier pseudonym, "Egbert Prentice").  A number of his novels were serialized in the Munsey magazines, including Draft of Eternity, Erik of the Strong Heart, and The Eye of Balamok.  With the reprinting of the Surgeon of Souls serie in Weird Tales, He was able to sell a series about psychic invetigator Dr. Martinus to Ghost Stories., written as either "Arthur" or "Eugene Banscombe," as told to Victor Roussea.  His three-part serial The Beetle Horde began in the first issue of Astounding Science Fiction.  In the mid-1930s he began writing hundreds of sexually suggestive stories for the "spicy" pulps, often under the pen names of "Lew Merrill" and "Clive Trent;" a number of these stories were reprinted under different titles and one-off pseudnyms  Under the house name "John Grange," he wrote several of the twenty-five adventures of Super-Detective Jim Anthony.  Among Emanuel's other pseudonyms were John Austin, George Munson, and Hugh Speer.  He published twenty-one novels by 1927, before concentrating on shorter works.

Never really a top-tier writer, Emanuel remains a talented and readable author whose many pulp stories deserve a second look.

The eleven issues of Weird Tales containing stories about Ivan Brodsky are all available to be read online.


Look what's happening to me
I can't believe it myself
Sudenly I'm on top of the world
It should have been somebody else
Bel;ieve it or not, I'm walkin' on air
I never thought I could feel so free
Flyin' away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it's just me

Earnest and unassuming teacher Ralph Hinckley (William Katt), complete with terrible early 1980s hair, is given a alien costume that gives him great powers.  Unfortunately, he is not given the instruction manuel to the suit.  Joining him on his adventures are tough, dog-biscuit-eating, FBI agent Bill Mazwell (Robert Culp) and Ralph's girlfriend Pam Davison (Connie Selleca), along with high school problems students Tony Villacana (Michael Pare) and "Love Me Rhonda" Rhonda Blake (Faye Grant).  I thought The Greatest American Hero was one of the most entertaing television programs I had ever seen, and nothing in the ensuing forty-pluse years has made me change my mind.

Sadly, John Hinckley's assasination attempt on President Ronald Reagan led studio higher-ups to change Ralph Hinckley's name to Ralph Hanley for the last nine episodes of the first season through awkward overdubbing; the name was changed back to Hinckley for the second season.  

The show was created by Stephen J. Cannell, who had already created Chase, The Rockford Files, Baretta, City of Angels, Richie Brockleman, Private Eye, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Stone, and Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, and would go on to create The A-Team, Hardcastle and McCormack,
HunterRiptide, Wiseguy, 21 Jump Street, Silk Stalkings, The Commish, and many others.  The NBC powers-that-be kept pushing for episodes that veered from Cannell's orignal concept; this seldeom affected the enjoyment of the show, but one can't wonder how much better the program would have been if Cannell could have avoided network meddling.

Anyway, it's a great show, and here is how it all started:

Sunday, November 19, 2023


 Ransomed Bluegrass.

Saturday, November 18, 2023


 As far as superheroes go, The Black Terror is a much better moniker than Super Pharmacy Guy, whic is what Bob Benton really is.  A druggist who loved experimenting with chemicals (don't they all?), Benton created (and inhaled) "formic ethers" a formula which gave him super strength and a limited form of invulnerability.  So naturally he became a superhero with a nifty black with gold trim costume that had a skull and crossbones on it -- an outfir bearing a strong resemblamce to that of the later comic book antihero, Marvel's The Punisher.  Since every superhero neds a sidekick and since Benton had a young assistant in his drug store named Tim Roland, the assistant put on an identical costume and becem...Tim (Coming up with a different name for his sidekick was not Benton's forte.)  Together, Benton and Tiom became the Terror Twins, fighting criminals, Nazis, and mad scientists whereever and whenever they found them.

Created by Richard Huighes (who went on to create classic character Herbie Popnecker) for Nedor Comics, The Black Terror premiered in Exciting Comics #9 (January 1941).  He proved to be so popular that he got his own quarterly title.  In addition to his own comic book, The Black Terror remained the lead feature for both Exciting Comics and America's Best Comics until 1949, when  Nedor pulled the plug on all three comics.  Nedor, being a lower tier comic book publisher, soon closed up shop and The Black Terror became a public domain character to be reused and reimagined by a long line of other publishers over the years.  (It wasn't until 2011 that Benton was portrayed as an African-American, now known as The Blackest Terror.)  One interesting fact: some of The Black terror stories were scripted by Patricia Highsmith before she became famous in her own right; alas, none of the tales in issue #17 are by her.

In this issue:

  • a shipment of a rare drug is used to ship radium, and a criminal gang intercepts the shipment
  • the villain Hypo has developed a spray that can bend the victim's mind to his will
  • the Terror Twins go after Snake and Packy, con men who have fleeced a small town
  • Steve Barry and Ploopie Carr (The Crime Busters) try to foil a jexelry store robbery
  • Donn Wonn practices his kissing on the poster of a movie star
  • Archaeologist Professor Punchy and George are digging in some ruins, find an ancient agg, and are surprised when it hatches
and the text stories:
  •  "Pot Luck"  Young Tad Hogan tries to escape from his evil guardian, who has just robbed a bank
  • "Big Game Hunters"  A pair of thieves try to rob a big game hunter and his son
  • "Bobby's Boat"  Bobby Grayson and Hank Dolan are trapped by a group of hostile Sioux Indians
Enjoy this issue.

Friday, November 17, 2023


Anti-Man by Dean R. Koontz (1970)

Anti-Man is an early Dean Koontz novel, dating back to the days when he signed his work using his middle initial.  By my count it is his seventh of his acknowledged books to be published, coming just two years after his first novel.  As an early work, it shows.

An expansion of the novelette "The Mystery of His Flesh" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1970 -- pubished perhaps one month before the novel -- Anti-Man is the story of an android, created by the World Authority, who survived an explosion that destroyed the research complex where he had been created.  Using talents his developers did not reliaze he had, the android resurrected six men who had been killed in the explosion, demonstrating an ability to change the shape and purpose of his body parts.  With the world under the rigid control of the WA, which had stopped all research into extending life, the android's abilty was a threat to the authoritarian governemnt.  It ordered the android destroyed.  Physician Jacob Kennelman (note the significance of the name), kidnapped the android before that could happen and now the two are running for their lives against an all-powerful worldwide organization.  They flee to the cold wastes of Alaska.

The android does not have a name.  Kennelman refers to is as He, with a capitol H.  (The possessive His is also capitolized).  This indicates the God-like power of the android.  As He becomes more self-aware, He realizes that his purpose is to serve mankind, to defeat death, and make the human race immortal -- all of which can be within His power as he grows and metamorphasizes into...what?  He begins to use his power to physically change, but the change needs energy and the enegy needs protein and protein means devouring the raw flesh of animals -- rabbits at first, then a few wolves, then the meat of of an elk.  Kennelman helps provide the meat.  He also does his best to protect He from the World Authority army that is searching for him with orders to kill.  He soon morphs into a huge budding mass of protoplasm.  Will his final incarnation be a boon to mankind as He has vowed, or will He become an all-destroying monster?  And is He sane?  Because He soon likens Himself to God.

(The author, who had a very traumatic chilkdhood, had converted to Catholicism and the subject of spirituality is a thread woven through much of his work, although Koontz has never used this faith to proselytize.)

An awkward novel, with more than a modicum of action and suspense . Occasionally, though, Koontz hits a wrong note (" goggles had been rammed down onto my nose with such force that the old proboscis had started bleeding"), uses the dreaded use of exposition theater (a detailed explanation of the workings and history of the "magnetic sled" could have been handled in a far less jarring manner), and lazily describes things without truly messhing it to the world of the novel ("I went in, purchased a synthe-ham sandwich and a carton of chocolate artificial  milk..."  This may be nit-picking.  the basic concept of the book is good, written in a solid journeyman style.  There's enough here to presage the kind of work Koontz would  begin to master within a few years.

(By the way, this was a paperback original from Paperback Library, never reprinted.  The cover by Steele Savage may be one of the worst ones that ever made it to market.  Truly off-putting.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2023


 The Canada Dry Ginger Ale Program was the first of many incarnation of The Jack Benny Program.  It premiered on May 2, 1932 on the NBC Blue Network and remained there for six months before moving to CBS Radio on October 30.  Benny stayed with NBC until the end of January 1933.  Benny moved to NBC on March 3, with the program now named The Chevrolet Program; in April 1934, a change of sponsor meant a change of title and the program briefly became The General Tire Revue.  In the Fall of 1934, with General Foods as a sponsor, the show was again retitled, adding Benny's name,  to The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny; this incarnation ran until 1942.  When World War II sugar rationing impacted Jell-O, the show became The Grape Nur Flakes Program Starring Jack Benny  (later The Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program).  October 1, 1944, saw a new sponsor and another new title:  The Lucky Strike Program Starring Jack Benny  The show returned to CBS on January 2, 1949, remaining there until it ended on May 22, 1955.  Repeats of the final three years were reaired from 1956 tp 1958 as The Best of Benny, sponsored by State Farm Insurance.  On television, The Jack Benny Program on Octoner 28, 1950, on CBS; it moved to NBC in September 1964, running until September 10, 1965. 

All totaled, well over three decades of comic genius.

The premiere episode of The Canada Dry Program featured George Olsen and his Ochestra, Broadway star Ethel Shutta (who also happens to be Mrs. George Olsen), Bob Borger, and Bob Rice, with Ed Thorgersen announcing.   Don't expect Jack's regular gang -- Don Wilson, Eddie Anderson, Mary Livingston, Phil Harris, Kenny Baker, or Dennis Day -- they would come later.  Instead, we have Jack introducing various musical numbers while shilling for "made to order" Canada Dry (now available in  a glass -- not a bottle -- at neighborhood soda fountains).

Journey back to the early days of Jack benny's radio career.  And enjoy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023



"The Family Portraits" by Johann August Apel  (supposedly first published in 1805, although no record of this has been found; first known appearance in Cicaden [German] as "Die Bilder der Arnen," 1810; included in Fantasmagoriana:  ou recueil d'histoire, d'apparitions, de spectres. revenants, fantomes, etc. [French]. edited by Jean-Baptiste Benoit Eyries, 1812, as by A. Apel; earliest known English translation (by Sarah  Elizabeth Utterson) in her uncredited anthology Tales of the Dead, 1813. as "The Family Portraits," no author given; the story has also been published (uncredited) as "A Ghost Story," in The Stanley Tales:  Original and Select (Volume 5), edited by Ambrose Marten, 1826. and (anonymously) as "The Accursed Portrait," in More Great Tales of Horror, edited by "Marjorie Bowen," 1935; more recently it has been reprinted (either anonymously or as by Johann Auguast Apel) in Tales of the Dead:  Ghost Stories of the Villa Diodati, edited by Terry Hale (1992), Fantasmagoriana:  (Tales of the Dead), edited by A. J. Day (2005), Mary Shelley Horror Stories, edited by Laura Bulbeck (2018), and Ghost Stories:  Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense, edited by Leslie S. Klinger & Lisa Morton (2019); "Die Bilder de Ahnen" can be translated as "The Paintings of the Ancestors")

Eyries' anonymously-edited Fantasmagoriana was the volume which inspired Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Polidari, and Claire Clarmont to try thier repsective hands at writing ghost stories during their 1816 sojourn at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland.  Polidoris "The Vampire" and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein went on to shape the Gothic horror genre; Utterson's transl;ation in Tales of the Dead was a specific influence on Mary Shelley.  The story's inclusion in two of the earliest and most important anthologies of German romanticism -- the Eyries and the Utterson -- have cemented "The Family Portriats" place in literary history.

Apel (1771-1816) was a short story writer, playwritght, librettist, and jurist.  His best known story, "Der Freischultz" (or "The Fatal Huntsman") drew on a folktale bout a marksman who made a deal with the devil for seven bullets that never missed; the first six would be aimed by the marksman and the seventh by the devil himself; it was the basis of a popular 1821 opera, Der Freischultz.  Apel's repitation lies in four short story collections:   Cicaden (1810-1811), Gespensterbuch (with Freidrich Laun, 1810-1815), Wunderbuch (in two volumes, with Laun, 1815-1816), and Zeitlosen (1817).  All four are of interest to anyone curious about the links between folklore, German romanticism, and the development of both modern fantasy and Gothic literature.

"The Famly Portraits" is really a simple tale, no more than an anecdote.  It's the Fall of 1737, and Colonel D____  is visting his friend Mr. N____ at his estate in the north of England.  There are many people staying at the house, and, since Colonel D____ happened to arrive late, he was assigned a newly opened bed chamber, one that had been closed for years.  Prior to retiring, the guests amused themselves by the warm fire, telling ghosts stories:  "the harmless, drowsy, and good-natured recreation of retailing wonderful narratives, in which, if any ill is spoken, it is generally against such as are well able to bear it, namely, the enemy of mankind, and persons who, having committed atrocious crimes, are supposed after death to haunt the same spots to which their deeds have attached dismal recollections."  These stories were beginning to have an effect.  "The rustling of withered leaves, casually stirred by the wind, os always a melancholy sound, and on this occasion lent its aid to the superstitious impressions which were gaining force by each successive recital of prodigies."  But when one member of the family began to tell of a ceertain famkjily tradition, he was cut short by Mr.  N____, who evidently did not want that particular tale told.

Soon the party broke up and Colonel D____ was led to his chambers -- a rather cold and desolate room.  Soon the Colonel was half asleep and the ashes of his fire were dyhing down, when a woman dressed i clothing of an older age entered his room and moved toward his bed.  As her head moved closer to his, he noted her appearance "where some of the worst passions of the living were blended with the cadaverous appearance of the dead."  He awoke the next morning, not knowing what happened to tha apparition nor how or when he had fallen asleep.   He decided not to stay any longer at his friend's house.  When questioned by Mr. N____, the Colonel did not relate his experience; rather, he made up another excuse.  Before leaving, Mr. N____ gave his friend a brief tour of the home.  When they entered the portrait gallery, the Colonel, staring at one picture, said, "May I never leave this spot, if that is not she."   The woman in the portrait was reputed to haunt the room where Colonel D____ had spent the night...the room where she had died long ago in a tale of murder and incest.

That's it.  Fairly weak tea and an overly familiar story for the modern reader.  The reaction to the tale in the early 19th century was a bit more sensational, however, as it followed the popular, chilling novels The Monk, The Castle of Otranto, and The Mysteries of Udolpho.  

"The Family Portraits," despite its familiarity, is still worth a read. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023


 "Honest Money" by Erle Stanley Gardner (from Black Mask, November 1932; reprinted in Honest Money:  and other short novels, 1991)

This s the first of six stories Gardner wrote about Croning, a newly-minted lawyer who finds himself pitted against a corrupt political machine.  Unlike with Gardner's better known attorney-sleuth Perry Mason, Corning does not have a chance to engage in courtroom shenanigans, but there's enough slam-bang action here to satisfy the most jaded of Gardner's fans.  And when things seem their bleakest, that's when Gardner pulls out all the stops.

It starts when Sam Parks, who owns a small resturant cum illegal speakeasy hires Corning to defend his wife, who was arrested in a sudden raid on the place.  Paying a simple fine should have gained the woman her release, but when one of the officers had placed his hands out and, assuming he wanted a typical bribe, she had given him fifty dollars, whereupon she was also arrested on bribery charges.  The assistant district attorney is demanding a twenty thousand dollar bond and is pushing for penitentery time for a very minor crime against a very minor defendant.  Why?  Then Sam parks is shot down outside of Corning's office and murdered.  The newly appointed head of the city water department -- who is vowing to clean up corruption within the department -- is somehow involved.  Corning finds himself facing a charge of counterfeiting and is "arrested"  by a man posing as a Secret Service agent and is about to be murdered by a city detective and his crony...

Justice does not realy prevail, but Mrs. Parks is released and the city machine have moved her far away so she cannot incriminate them.  Corrupt politicians have put Ken Corning under notice with out realizing the he, in turn, has put them under notice.

The saga continues in the next story in the series, "The Top Comes off" (Black Mask, December 1932).

Fast action...Complication following complication...A tough protagonist going against the odds...Nothing seems to say Black Mask in the 1930s better.


 What's that I hear you say?

Jerry, it's been a long while since you've posted a good gorilla movie.

Well, that's because there are very few good gorilla movies.

Granted.  But can't you post a really cheesy one?  We know you like scrapmg the bottom of the barrel.

You're in luck, my friends.  I do happen to have on hand Mark of the Gorilla, a 1950 programmer with Johnny Weismuller as Jungle Jim, and a whole lot of gorilla costumes, if not actual gorillas.

Ooh!  Tell us more.

There's also Nazis --


-- and fights with a leopard, a lion, and a very pissed-off eagle...

[Double "Squee!"]

...and an all-star cast with Trudy Marshall, Suzanne Dalbert, Onslow Stevens, Robert Purcell, Pierce Lyden, Neyle Morrow, Selmer Jackson, William Bailey, George Barrows, Holmes Herbert, Carl M. Leviness, and Forbes Murray.

Wait.  Who?

And there's also Jimmy the Crow playing Caw-Caw the Crow, and Steve Calvert as the Gorilla Man!

Well, that's okay, then.  Boyohboy, we can't wait!

You don't have to.

Sunday, November 5, 2023


Openers:  There were other

First Ages

before this one

A Bevaur village Archivist named Spriewas a brown rabbit

 self-conscious of her unevenly lengthed, cornstalk ears

carefully folded under a floppy grat baker's hat that had once been her mom's.

She kept emticulous records

shelved within the dusty stacks

 oc cavernous Ryde Hall.

The hall was named

after two of the many who had died

for bevaur.

Spire often womdered what the old goats Kir and Tham Ryde

were really like,

more specifically, she wanted to knpow

what was inside their Ryde hearts

when they stopped.

-- from "The Beast You Are," the title novella from The Beast You Are:  Stories, 2023

Paul Temblay has never been non to shy away from literary risks.  Now he has written an epic (160-page) free-verse anthromorphic poem about in a world in which dogs, cats, rabbits, toads, geese, horses, sheep, hedgehogs, goats, storks, robins, squirrels, and other animals live, if not in harmony, then in casual acceptance of each other.   It is a world in which a select few are casually destroying in theirgreed and their quests for power.  A world, perhaps, much like ours..

For centuries, Bevaur has been plagued by the appearance of a gigantic monster, Awn, who appears every thirty years to take a sacrifice from the city.  Three are chosen each year to "voluntarily" offer themselves up as sacrifice; only one will taken by Awn.  These volunteer sacrifices are supposedly chosen by lot by the Council.  This year the three are children:  Magg, an eight-year-old dog (a spritz mix), Tol, a ten-year-old toad (quiet and fond of red stockings and small hats), and Mereth, a fourteen-year-old cat (of unknown mix and a secret psychopath).  Mereth had hoped the moster would select her so she could carve her way down his throat in blood.  But Awn took tol, leaving Mereth disappointed and Magg vowing to somehow find a way to stop Awn from ever taking another sacrifice.

Watching the ceremony gleefully were members of the Cult of Awn, a robed and masked sect vying for power in Bevaur.  At the end of the ceremony, the Cult members throw down their robes and masks and head off, either to their homes or to barrooms, leaving their discards to be cleaned up the next morning.  That evning, however, Mereth retreives one of the masks.  She takes it home and paints a lion's face on it.  This gives her warped mind some kind of power and five years later, wearing the mask, she kills her father in the bloodiest way possible.  Mereth is not suspected and the murder becomes the first committed by the soon-to-be legendary Bevaur Butcher.  Dozens of animals of all types and all stations are killed in the ensuing years, with no clue as to who the Butcher might be.

The years pass and soon the time for Awns' reappearance and a new sacrifice approaches.  Tol's sister Pen is determined to avenge her brother and seeks out the monster's lair, supposedly somewhere in the north.  With her are Magg and Magg's former lover; Pen's husband has remained at home tking care of her two children.  Pen is able to locate Awn, sleeping under the earth, and manages to wound the beast with a poison arrow.  But Awn kills Magg's former boyfriend and takes off.  Meanwhile, the Cult, which has grown in power, has held a rally in advance of the thrity-year sacrifice.  Merith infiltrates the rally and begins killing Cult members indiscriminately.  She then goes to Pen's home and slaughters Pen's husband and their two young children.  The sacrifices that year are three vocal opponents of the Cult, supposedly "chosen by random," but an anquished Pen pulls rank and takes the place of one of them, hoping to be able to kill Awn at last.  Her ploy does not work and Pen nis destroyed.

The next thirty years brings economic, social, and ecological ruin to Bevaur.  Magg is now old and ying.  Mereth has become senile and has forgotten she was once the Bevaur Butcher, although there have been dozens of copycats to take up the slaughter.  Now in their twilight, can either of then stop the monster Awn?

This is a nifty, complicated, and detailed story, liberally sprinkled with Tremblay's imagined world's history and lore.  Immensely readable and page-turning, "The Beast You Are" is also a cautionary tale whose dystopian values hit very close to home.

Tremblay has always been a risk-taker and his books are all worth your time.  He is the author of the well-received crime novels The Little Sleep and No Sleep Till Wonderland, both festuring P.I. Msark Genevich.  His novel A Head Full of Ghosts won the 2015 Bram Stoker Award for Best Horror Novel and has been optioned for film.  Disappearnace at Devil's Rock won the 2017 British Fantasy Award for Best Horror Novel.  The Cabin at the End of the World won both the 2019 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Horror Novel; it was adapted as the 2023 film Knock at the Cabin, directed by M. Night Shyamalan.  Recent novels include Survivor Song and The Pallbearers Club.  Small press publications include The Harlequin & The Train (Necropolitan Press, 2016), Swallowing a Donkey's Eye (ChiZine Publications, 2012), and, as "P.K. Jones" (a jpoint pseudonym with Stephen Graham Jones), Floating Boy and the Girl Who Could Not Cry (ChiZine Publications, 2014).  His collections include Growing Thong and Other Stories and The Beast You Are:  Stories.


  • "Daniel Boyd" (Dan Stumpf, Aesop's Travels.  Western.  "He had the mind of a child and the hands of a killer.  They rode out with Aesop on a journey of Murder and revenge -- the bartnder, the old scout, the outlaw, the gambler...They rode with Aesop TO STOP HIM FROM KILLING AGAIN."  
  • John Carnell, editor, New Writings in SF 9.  Science fiction anthology with 7 stories.  Carnell edited 21 volumes in this landmark series, which was followed by further 9 volumes edited by Kenneth Bulmer.  This is the British edition; an Americna edition ot the series was published by Bantam books for nine volumes; however, the final three volumes in the Bntam series differed considerably from the British editions, dropping stories and adding others from latter volumes of the UK series. 
  • John Creasey, Introducing the Toff.  Mystery.  The Toff is the Honourable Richard Rollison, an upper class crime solver, who was featured in nearly 60 works by Creasey and remains one of his most popular characters.  As one can tell from the title, this is the first Toff book, publuished nin 1938 (although the character first saw print in "The Black Cicle,: The Thriller #252, December 2, 1933).  "While returning home from a cricket match at his father's home, the Honourable Richard Rollison -- alias the Toff -- comes across an accident which proves to be a mystery.  As he delves deeper into the matter with his usual perseverance and thoroughness, murder and suspense form the backdrop for a fast moving and exciting adventure."
  • Peter Dickinson, Walking Dead.  Mystery.  "david Fox, a young lab researcher whose chief occupation is traiing rats, begins work on the Caribbean island of Hog's Cay only to discover that he has been thrown into a complex maze of political corruption, revolution, the occult, and murder."  Dickinson's mysteries tend to be sui generis, and uniformly good.
  • Alan Dean Foster & Eric Frtank Russell, Design for Great-Day.  SF novel by Foster, expanding Russell's novella (Planet Stories, January 1953; aldo published as "The Ultimate Invader").  "when a strange starship appears m ysteriously in a distant alien world, bearing onoly a single human and his bee-like extraterrestial companion, the powerful warlord of that world laughs at the stranger's preposterous demand:  End an all-out war with an interstellar rival, or face devastating consequences.  But James Lawson, emissary from an intergalactic federation of advanced races, means every word he says, and has the resources to enforce them, whatever the cost."
  • ???Lee Goldberg, Diagnosis Murder:  Last Word and Diagnosis Murder:  Waking Nighmare.  Two of three books ordered online from a vendor; the third book arrived a couple of weeks ago, but these two have not shown up yet.  I'm trying to track them down now.  Where they are and whether I will ever recieve them is anybody's guess. 
  • Erle Stanley Gardner, Hot Cash, Cold Clews.  A recent collection of Lester Leith stories, about a Robin Hood of Crime, who continually thwarts the efforts of the police to capture him despite the fact that they have placed an undercover agent as Leith's valet.  And Behind the Mask, a collection of four stories featurng Bob Crowder, a crime-fighting private detective who wers a mask.
  • W. F. Harvey, The Double Eye. a collection of "all thirty of Harvey's uncanny tales," including the classic "August Heat" and "The Beast with Five Fingers."  Harvey (1885-1937) was a World War I hero and a physician who, despite ill helth caused by his military service, published many short stories and essays, as well as a cheerful and good-natured memoir."
  • G. Legman, editor, The Limerick:  1700 Examples, with Notes, Variants and Index.  The actual count is 1739 limericks, just about all of them not safe for work.  Published in 1969, I actually once had a copy of this book, but it went walkabout (as many of my books tended to do over time).  The kids found this in a used book store and bought it as a birthday gift for me, but I don't think they actually read any of the limericks, or they would have have been too embarassed to give it to me.  Unlike the Magrath book listed below, I am not giving an example of the poems therein.
  • Attica Locke, Bluebird Bluebird.  Edgar-winning mystery novel.  "East Texas plays by itsown rules -- a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger knows all too well.  Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the Lone Star State, he was the first in his family to lwave Texas as soon as he could,  But then duty called him home.  In the middle of a personal crisis that has put both his job and his marriage in jeopardyt, Darren takes to Highwat 59 on the trail of two seemingly related murders -- a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman -- that have stirred up a hornet's nest of resentment in the small town of Lark.  Darren must solve their murders before the town's long-simmering racial tensions erupt." 
  • Gary Lovisi, A Mystery, Crime & Noir Notebook.  Almost fifty articles by a man who knows the subject better than almost anyone else.
  • Bentley Little, The Store.  Horror.  "Juniper, Arizona, is an off-the-ramp desert town the retail giant called The Store has chosen for its new location.  It has everything you could possibly want under one roof, at unbelievable prices.  But this place demands something of its customers that goes beyond brand loyalty.  At The Store, one-stop shopping has become last-stop shopping...Bill Davis is the only one in town who senses the evil lurking within The Store.  But he can';t stop his two teen-age daughters from taking jobs there and fallincg under the frightening influence of its sadisti manager.  When Bill finally takes a stand, he'll get much more than he bargained for -- at a  terrifying cost."  A film adaptation of The Store has been in development since 2007; don't hold your breath.
  • Arthur Machen, Ritual and Other Stories.  A revised edition that collects some of the author's most elusive short horror and supernatural fiction.  The Secret of the Sangraal and Other Writings.  A collection of essays, including those from Dog and Duck (1924), Notes and Queries (1926), Tom O'Bedlam and His Song (1930), Bridles and Spurs (1951), and A Note on Poetry (1949)
  • Myler Magrath, The Book of Irish Limericks.  From 1986, a thin paperback of 149 limericks.  Some are mildly lewd, some depend on reading them with an Irish accent, some are dated band some are just plain meh.  "Near the Barracks there lives a young lass,/Who is said to have two breasts of brass./A soldier who bit her,/Found in one a transmitter,/For she works for the news house of Tass!"  A birthday gift.
  • "Sarban"  (John W. Wall), The Doll Maker and Other Tales of the Uncanny.  The title novella was reprinted by Ballantine Books in 1960 and is an A. Merritt-eque fantasy.  This addition includes two other stories.  Ringstones and Other Curious Tales.  Again, the title novella was reptinted by Ballantine in 1961.  This edition includes five additional stories.  The Sacrifice and Other Stories.  Four novellas unpublished during the author's lifetime.
  • Rex Stout, A Prize for Princes.  An early romantic melodrama. first published in 1914.  "Aline Solini -- a beautiful Russian adventuress who has abandoned her Russian hu8sband and is now in search of greater conquests in Europe -- arrives in Marisis, in the decadent days on the eve of World War I.  She has been rescued by Richard Stetton, the wealthy playboy son of an American millionaire, who is on a trip to Europe to discover himself.  Instead, the somewhat dim-witted Stetton falls into Aline's clutches, and she uses him and his money to win her way into fashionable society.   Once she is accepted by the elite, her schemes move her closer and closer to the throne."
  • __________, Seed on the WindUpdate:  I reported that this book, which I preordered, would arrive in November.  Oops!  At the last minute, eagle eyes at Hard Case Crime noted that the book's spine read "SEED ON THE WIIND" so all copies were pulped and a new, corrected cover and spine were p[roduced, slipping the publication date back a month to December.  A part of me is secretly longing for another error because I would love to have a book by Rex Stout titled Seed on the Wine.
  • Mervyn Wall, The Unfortunate Fursey and The Return of Fursey.  Two classic fantasies about a monk apprenticed to a sorcerer who suffers adventures with poltergeists and strange beings, including the Devil.
  • F. Paul Wilson, Double Dose.  Duad Book 2, which picks up right after Double Threat, which was a major rewrite and reimagining of Wilson's LaNague Federation short story "Pard" (which in turn was expanded to the novel Healer -- the revised story placed Double Threat directly in Wilson's "Secret History of the World," which includes his "Adversary' cycle, his Repaiorman Jack books, and his ICE trilogy, and reveal a plan to bring the Vsistors back to Earth.  Double Dose incorporates the theme of his Wardenclyffe and the secrets of Nicola Tesla's tower as an isidious malady claims moore and more victims every day, leading to a confrontation over the Salton Sea.  Does that make everything clear now?

It's Beginning to Sound a Lot Like..."  It was just a few days after Halloween when I noticed that one of the local radio stations had begun playing non-flippin'-stop Christmas songs.  I like Christmas-holiday-winter songs as much as the next guy, but. really?  I call too soon on this entire nonsense.

In that spirit (or lack of it), I set out in search of the worst Christmas songs ever recorded, in the hopes that I might convince that local station to begin playing them.  there are many such lists on the internet, but I found this one from particularly appalling:

"Do They Know It's Christmas?  by Band Aid 20.

"Funky Funky Christmas" by New Kids on the Block.

"The Christmas Shoes" by New Song.

"Christmas Tree" by Lady Gaga and Space Cowboy.

"Ragin' Cajun Redneck Christmas" by the Robertsons.

"Drummer Boy" by Justin Bieber and Busta Rhymes.

"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" by Gayla Peevey.

"Spin Me a Christmas" by Aqua.

"What Can You Get a Wookiee for Christma (When He Already Owns a Comb?) by The Star Wars Intergalactic Droid Choir and Chorale.

"Millennium Prayer" by Cliff Richard.

{Any Beatles Christmas song].  So let's try this one:

"Christmas Wrapping" by Spice Girls.

[Anything involving dogs or cats].  So here's a fallback for this one:

"Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" by NSYNC.

"Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)"  by John Denver.  (A favorite of my children when they were younger)

"Christmas Lights" by Coldplay.

"Have a Cheeky Christmas" by The Cheeky Girls.

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" by John Legend and Kelly Clarkson.

"Christmas Conga" by Cyndi Lauper.

"Santa Baby" by Madonna.

"All I Want for Christmas Is You (Superfestive)" by Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber.

"Don't Shoot Me Santa" by The Killers.

"Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) by The Darkness.

"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" by Bruce Springsteen.

"Wonderful Christmastime"  Paul McCartney and Wings.

So there you have it -- twenty-five misfires, missteps, and misinterpretations.  What do you think?  What horrid Christmas/holiday songs should be added to the list?

More Songs:  On this day in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States of America.  This was the campaign song that helped his election, courtesy of the great Ronnie Gilbert:

Lincoln won garnering 40% of the vote in a four -way election against John C. Breckinridge, John Bell, and Stephen A, Douglas.  Lincoln's supporters went all out with songs about their candidate; O could find no really popular songs in favor of the other three candidates.  John Bell's Constitutional Party advocated for a unified country and against the threatened dissolution of the country by Southerners.  Song for the Union" typified that feeling.  (It should be noted tht Everett was bell's running mate.)  The song goes, in part:

"Let Lincoln go and split his rail,
   But he cannot split the Union;
'Twas put together with wrought nails
   By our sires who were soon ones;
Let Douglas, Breckinridge, and all,
  With their platforms, go to thunder;
For Bell and Everett rolls the ball
   That will make them all knock under.

"Defenders of Old Treason Brown
   Ought to all be swinging
On some tall tree not far from town, 
   With the knell of treason ringing.
Freemen ought to all rejoice
   At the end of all such traitors,
That dare to raise up treason's voice
   In defence of treason's capers.

"Old Independence Bell should toll
   The knell of dissolution,
Each corner posted up in gold
   Should be our 'Constitution;'
Each parent should their children teach
   'Our Country's Declaration,'
And guard it from a foeman's reach,
   The Bulwark of our nation."

Not as catchy as "Lincoln and Liberty" when set to music and sung, I'm afraid.

Meet the Press:  The venerable NBC news show is 76 years old today.  It was created by Martha Roundtree, who served as the show's first moderator, and Lawrence Spivak, and followed a two-year introduction on radio begun in 1945 as American Mercury Presents:  Meet the Press (American Mercury was a magazine purchased by Spivak in 1935) after Spivak asked Roundtree to critique plans for a new radio show.  When Meet the Press aired on television in 1947, the radio program changed its name to match the television show.  Roundtree remained the moderator until 1953, followed by Ned Brooks, who remained moderator until 1963.  Spivak then took over, retiring in 1975 (in a special one-hour edition that featured sitting president Gerald Ford).  The next moderator was Bill Monroe, who stayed in the post until 1984, and was replaced with Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb as co-hosts.  Succeding hosts Chris Wallace,and Garrick Utley.  In 1991, Tim Russert took over, and continued until his death in 2008; Russert was the longest-serving moderator in the program's history.  Following Russert's death, Tom Brokaw became the interim moderator and David Gregory became the new permanent moderator late in 2008.  Viewership began to slide and by 2014, NBC was searching for a new moderator; one of those they approached as Jon Stewart, who later said, "My guess is they were casting as wide and as weird a net as they could.  I'm sure part of them was thinking, 'Why don't we just make it a variety show?"   They did not make it a variety show, however, and in 2014, Chuck Todd became the program's moderator.  Todd left the program last year and was replaced by current host Kristen Welker.-- the first female moderator since Martha Roundtree.

Sally:  Today is the birthday of Sally Field, former Gidget  ( and Flying Nun (, and much, much more.  My image of her stepfather -- stuntman, former Tarzan, Range Rider, and Yancy Derringer -- was forever tarnished when Field accused him in her 2008 memoir of sexually abusing her as a child.  Kudos to Field for coming back from that.

It's Nacho Ordinary Holiday:  Today is National Nacho Day!  To celebrate, here are five yummy recipes for you to try:

Bored of Education:  A 1946 Little Lulu cartoon:

Hmm:  An angel appeared before my brother and said that, because he was such a cool guy, the Heavens have decided to give him a gift.  He could either choose infinite wisdom, eternal youth and beauty, or infinite wealth.  Without hesitation he hose infinite wisdom.  "Done!" the angel said, and faded away, leaving only a light yellow halo about his head.  I was curious about his new knowledge and asked him to say something.  He said, "I should have taken the money."

Florida Man:
  •  Florida Couple Natalie Fonesca and Rafis Reynolds have taken togetherness to a new extreme.  They are accused of attempted murder, armed carjacking, armed robbery, and kidnapping after they slashed a man's throat and threw him off a bridge in Escambia County (just a few mile from where I live).  The victim had met Fonesa on an online site and agreed to have dinner and hang out with her.  He went to Fonesca's house, where she introduced him to Reynolds, saying that he was her uncle.  The three of them then went in the victim's car, heading to his house  they allegedly stole his shoes, his, phone,hois mpn ey, and his car, slashed his throat, and tossed him off a bridge.  The man, however, survived and was able to swim to shore, where he flagged down a deputy.  The stolen car was late found on Rte. 98 West after it had been set on fire.  The current condition of the victim is unknown.
  • Florida Man Timothoes Powell was arrested after trying to circumcize his two-year-old cousin while babysitting in Daytpona Beach, according to police.  The child's mother was at work and the grandparents were home but sleeping at the time.  A home security camera shows Powell trying to change the boy's diaper, then walking away with "Something in his hand."  Powell returned to finish changing the diaper while the toddler was screaming.  Earlier footage showed Powell yelling at the boy, squirting water from a bottle at him, and threatening to put soap in his mouth if he wasn't quiet.
  • Florida Company Roof E-Z has a November special advertised.  Buy a new roof and they will throw in a free turkey and an AR-15 as part of their "Roof and Gobble" promotion.  Perhaps the AR-15 is meant to put down the turkey before it is cooked.
  • There's nothing strange about him, Florida Man Tony Nixon, 60, of Ocala, insisted.  Nixon has been charged with 20 counts of enhanced possession of child pornography, possission of meth, and possession of marijuana.  The images discovered on his laptop showed prepubescent children engaging in sexual acts and being sexually battered.  He told deputies that he was "not sexually attracted to children."  They did not believe him.
  • Beloved Florida Resident Berani, a fifteen and a half-year-old Sumatran tiger at the Zoo Miami, had to be euthanized thjis past week after a "heartbreaking" diagnosis of  spleen cancer.  Berani leaves behind two cubs, Satu (born 2015) and Ndari (born 2021) from his relationship with tigress Leeloo.  There are less than 500 Sumtran tigers remaining in the wild, making the death of any tiger even more distressing.
  • Florida Man and Clay County Fire Rescue firefighter Sean Evert Carpenter, 36, was arrested on the job and charged with four counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim less than twelve years old.  The victim was an aquaintance of Carpenter but has no familial relation connection.  School authorites recognized distinct signs of traume in the child, who admited the molestation to parents earlier in October.  Sheriff H. D. 'Gator" DeLoach was blisreing in his comments about Carpenter:  "This piece of trash is a disgrace not only to his employers but also to anyhone in public service who proudly sacrifce their lives to serve others.  He took full advantage of his position as a trusted first responder to defile a child's innocence."  Clay County Fire Rescue has yet to respond.
  • It had to happen.  The first-ever Florida Man Games are set for February 24, 2024, in St. Augustine.  Among the challenges will be the "Evading Arrest Obstacle Course" (where participants will be chased by real police officers), a weaponized pool noodle mud duel, beer belly Florida sumo, a catagory 5 cash grab, and a "catalytic converter, two bikes, and a handful of copper pipes race against time.  The judges for the Games have been announced:  Dan "Nitro" Clark and Lori "Ice" Fetrick of American Gladiators.

Good News:
  •  Three friends all over 100 reveal secrets to a long life:  "Happiness, Staying active, and keep a boy-toy nearby"
  • Cop saves unconscious driver from burning truck:  "Either I'm going to dis here with him, or I'm going to get him out."
  • Ring camera video catches trick-or-treaters refilling empty can bowl
  • Scientist engineered a bacteria to eat plastic bottles and transform them into useful liquid
  • Ocean-lover saves 1000 seals off Britain and even builds them a hospital
  • Deaf children are the first humans to have hearing pathays restored in dramatic demonstration of new gene theray

Something to Remember:  "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside you."  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's Poem:
Argh - Daylight Savings Time Ends -- 2 AM November 6 2022

Hour hands of o'clock get set back
sixty minutes gaining extra hour of Autumn
round about this same day of November
every year, what a bum
er, and inconvenient truth diverged
from this wayfaring chum
purposely manipulating a hold
over sans yesteryear
(first implemented in the United States
with Standard Time Act of 1918,

a wartime measure for seven months
during World War I in the interest
of adding more daylight hours
to conserve energy resources)
doth rat a tat tat drum
a plain sensation of jet lag
(with earthling in the balance)
as if flying backwards
within Herbert George Wells
celebrated time machine

at warp speed from
this station, where bumpy ride
invariably finds me
feeling ticked off and glum
in no mood to rhyme, ir be funny,
cuz I recall experiencing
exactly xlii previous instances
being forced to spring ahead
when countless months before viz
Sunday, March 14, 2022 at 2:00 am

one twenty fourth of said day
surrendered to Father Time
finding yours truly juiced barely equipped
to cope mentally, physically,
and spiritually whipsawed tantamount
with impossible mission
to get smart and gather scattered wits
sun tide, and express mood as hoe hum
analogous to coal (essence)
raked over me noggin

mining an inducement
for emergency convoy,
when pitched from
sea to figurative shining seagram
defunct company name brand
once the largest owner
of alcoholic beverage lines in the world
nsync with Johnnie Walker scotch
quite the gin tonic he brewed,
where live yik yak
(going ticktock) wired vanguard

trulia tried optimism to hum
a lively Irish air, cuz I
(Bailey) of Bailey Banks & Biddle
the crown jewel scion
scion of a wealthy family
swallowed down sorrow
regarding cremains of mother
her inert ashes boxed
for more'n an (eat turn) eternity
like talcum powder went -- me mum
Chris Ann her namesake

bling boviation, emasculation,
insinuation, nomination, termination
once worth matchless peerage,
now pitched numb
skull into morass
of temporary confusion, where plumb
line delineating circadian rhythm offset,
when athwart pilot rum
dire straits found motley crue bickering
where Lilliputians slum

bring wherein Gulliver's Travels
landed me upon islets of langerhans
(endocrine cells scattered
throughout the pancreas)
defiantly, ham-handedly, liberally thumb
ming nose, where body, mind & soul
weeknd viz a bully did cower
hence mister clock
who got hijacked to Cuba
3600 seconds per hour

experienced head, thorax
and abdomen dimishing in power
wrought indistinguishable
Whitsuntide as sour
grapes of wrath imposing
ill fitting dea legs,
which folded like a faulty tower
crumbling skeletal carapice,
quickly resoundingly surrendered
and back slid vis a vis
space/time continuum did devour

Black hole (sun) event horizon indeed
kept lock step as das joint mill hoard
Sucker punched the band wagon
of father tiem, whose riffs a silent chord
nsync with atomic fractional second bored
pesky quirky shenanigans
toying with chronometers
counter point of view shifted
to oppose this minute accord.

-- Matthew Harris

(Yes, I turned my back one hour.  I was really tired so I considered turning it back two hoours, but decided to go with tradition.)