Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


                                    DONALD TRUMP NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

Once again The Donald tries

To cop the Nobel Peacenik Prize.

Alas!  I fear the orange jefe

Mainlined a bit too much cofefe.

A storm of protest has started drizzling

Because The Donald's Putin's quisling.

This is news that isn't fake;

The Donald really takes the cake.

Saturday, January 27, 2024


The Case Against the Comics by Gabriel Lynn (printed by Timeless Topix of St. Paul 
Minnesota, 1944)

Well now I know where I went wrong; or could have gone wrong had I not been born by 1944.

It's the fault of comics and comic strips according to the author of this vague, accusatory, and unsubstantiated pamphlet -- a screed issued by Catechetical Guild Education Society, which paradoxically published comic books distributed to millions of boys and girls in Catholic schools, including 496 issues of Treasure Chest of Fun and Fact, issued every two weeks during the school year, exept during the holidays.

So, you want to now the cause of juvenile delinquency in this country?  Look no further than the funny pages, that cesspool of degradation aimed directly at our nation's youth.  Nonspecific and unnamed examples of this attack are (well, not quite) cited; strangely, these axamples could not be found by people seeking them out. 

Anyway, here are some kinda sorta specifics, taken from an analysis of 92 comic books and more than 1000 newspaper comic strips that appeared during August, September, and October of 1943:
  • Major Crimes Depicted - 216.  Each included "in detail sufficient to afford at least a working knowledge of the technique employed by the criminal or criminals."
  • Minor Crimes Depicted - 309.  Misdemeanors "as defined by the criminal codes of most states."
  • Antisocial Behavior - 271.  Things not covered above, but excluding mere mischievous acts or annoying conduct.
  • Physical Assaults - 522.  Those with no obvious sadistical connotations, "but tending to glorify brute force , nearly all depicted with complete detail and an abundance of gore in its aftermath."
  • Laecenies - 39.  Including shoplifting, pocket-picking and confidence game swindles.
  • Sadistic Acts - 86.  Including eleven examples of whipping, " a vice far more prevalent in modern America than is suspected by most Americans."
  • Vulgar Behavior - 186.  "The greatest single source of examples for this classification was a particular strip in which, for the three-minth period studied, not a single day failed to contain one of more example of gross vulgarity."  I wish the strip had been named; I'd like to read it.
  • Suggestive Art - 114.  Ranging "from the mildly suggestive to the patently pornographic."  This reminds me a bit of Kitty's Aunt Mary, who stormed out of a screening of Dr. Zhivago because it was pure filth.
  • Vulgar Speech - 491.  Including such words and phrases as "Judas Priest," "gol dang,"  and "geez." 
  • Gross Grammatical Abuses - 194.  "I seen"  "I done" "He hain't," etc.
  • Onomatopedia - 362.  Made-up words:  "glunk," "zock,' "pow," and the like.
  • Physical Monstrocities - 161.  Ranging from "the merely grotesque to the revolting."
  • Fantastic Situations and Actions - 204.  "Scenes clearly divorced from any reasonable resembalnce to reality."  Strange, since these are the underpinnings of many of the world's major religions.
  • Un-American, Vigilante Activities - 246.  This hit a core with me for three reasons.  1)  I read Batman and the like; 2)  I really distursted the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover; and 3) Because my childhood address was 246 Acton Road -- coincidence?  Or was God trying to tell me I was a lefty, pinko, liberal, Commie rat out to destroy the American Way?
Anyway, there it is laid out, if not in black and white, then in gray and gray.  Why the country went o Hell in a handbasket.

I could not find much about writer Gabriel Lynn,  Two years after The Case Against the Comics  appeared, Lynn  issued another screed published by the Catechetical Guld, The Teacher and the Comics.  Lynn's work preceded Dr. Frederic Wertham's sadly influential book Seduction of the Innocent and influenced an anti-comic crusade in Cincinnatti which had national implications.

If you can stomach it, here is The Case Against the Comics:

Thursday, January 25, 2024


 The Tall Delores by Michael Avallone  (1953)

Let us sing the praises of Michael Avallone, outspoken author of more that 223 books (a prety specific n umber, there), -- although he claimed over a thousand books -- and "the fastest typewriter in the East."  

Perhaps Bill Crider said it best, "He could sure tell a story.  He couldn't write, but he could sure tell a story."

Avallone wrote in almost every genre, but his main emphasis was in mysteries and suspense.  Actually, it was in "alternative" mysteries, a Bill Pronzini has described it. Pronzini could easily have devoted both his critical looks as bad mystery writing, Gun in Cheek and Son of Gun in Cheek, to Avallone alone.  Avallone's style was "an ungrammatical, mispelled, brain-jangling approximation of English," as per Francis M. Nevins.  Take the groaing syntax of Carrol John Daley, add the slipshoodiness of Robert Leslie Bellam, and season with the total eccentricity of Harry Stephen Keeler and you might come close -- but not too close -- to the lamentably sublime artistry of Michael Avallone.

His major character is private eye Ed Noon, who first appeared in 1953's The Tall Delores, and continued through some three dozen novels over the next 35 years, eventually ending up as the private eye to the president of the United States.  (Avallone did write one Ed Noon short story in the late Forties, but it was not pubished until 1971.)  The Noon books are filled with wisecracks and Avallone's deep devotion to old movies and baseball.  (In the beginning, Noon was a fan of the New York Giants, but when the Mets opened their franchise, both Avallone and Noon switched their loyalties and became die-hard fans.)

Avallone wrote fast and evidently seldom (if ever) stopped to rewrite or edit himself, which may explain one scene in The Tall Delores in which a woman strips, first taking off her skirt, then her negligee.  I doun't think anyone has ever contradicted Nevins' assessment, "By normal standards every Nooner is an inept mess."

One thing stands out about the Ed Noon books, however.  They are just plain fun.  Perhaps they can even be considered a palate cleaser for the more literate, well-plotted books, brimming with a sense of place and a sense of character.

So.  The Tall Delores.

She's a six foot five inch behemoth of a beauty, towering over the six foot Noon.  Noon esitmates her bust size at 50 inches, but that strains credibility as well as bressieres.

She enters Noon's small office, dubbed the "mouse auditorium." wanting him to find her fiance who has bolted with fivee thousand dollars of her money.  Noon collects a $200 retainer and Delores leaves.  At the same time, the man she wants to find turns up dead.  Noon goes to her hotel room and finds a Chinese man there dead with a broken neck, with Delores standing over the body.  So, there's a bit of racism here -- the corpse is labeled a Chinaman and a Chink.  Delores knocks Noon out and flees, leaving Noon to wake up with the corpse and the cops surrounding him.  Noon would call his best lawyer friend, but it turns out he has been beaten to death outside a nightclub.  Noon escapes from the cops.  Noon hooks up with a gorgeous hooker named Wheeler and tells her his name is Woolsey.  (Remember Wheeler and Woolsey, the old comedy act?)  A cabbie gives Noon a tip that he dropped Delores off at a nightclub run by the five foot gay crime boss Doc ("Don't call me Doc") Cook, who is usually bookcased by a pair of pig-uglies.  Doc Clarke and his thugs want to ice Noon, but he gets away -- but not before learning that the entire affait rests on half a million dollars worth of uncut diamonds and a map to their location.  Noon pulls a gun on Delores and Wheeler takes them to the apartmant of a hooker friend to hide out.. There are hints that Wheeler and her friend are lesbian lovers, but Noon kisses Wheeler and they fall in love and into bed...Oh.  And there are crooked cops.

Here's just a random sampling from the book:

"Delores as a hell of a lot more than tall.  She was huge, statuesque.  A Galamazon.  A regular Empire State Building of female feminine dame.  And all woman, besides."

"That kind is as inflexible as a wooden ruler and aboput as fair as a Southern jury with a colored chicken thief."

"A siren bansheed up from the corner and the meat wagon pulled up."

"Built like she was it was like spelling Elephant with the letters m-o-u-s-e."

"She descended on me like a tree full of the same apes she looked like."

"...the tires screeched like four old maids finding a man in the closet..."

"There was enough perculair about Doc to make a psychiatrist sharpen a dozen pencils."

I could go on, but then I would be copying the entire novel verbatim.  Sufice it to say this is not a book for the kiddies.  It's for the groan-ups.

These Nooners can be an acquired taste, but if you are into that sort of thing, they can be glorious.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024


 Let's join Jean and Pat Abbott as they solve another murder mystery.   This time the couple have made the acquaintance of a famous psychiatrist, Dr. John Rhodes, as they travel to London.  When plane has engine trouble and crashes, the Abbotts make it to safety, but their new friend is dead -- not from the accident, but from murder...To solve the case, Pat goes undercover at a mental hospital.

Once again, Claudia Morgan and Les Damon star as Frances Crane's famous sleuthing couple.  Also featueed in this episode is Everett Sloane.  The script was written by Howard Merrill.


Tuesday, January 23, 2024



"Beckwith's Case" by Maurice Hewlitt (first published in Scribner's Magazine, August 1909, as "Beckwith's Fairy"; included in the author's book The Lore of Proserpine, 1913; included in The Uncertain Element:  An Anthology of Fantastic Conceptions, edited by Kay Dick, 1950)

Stephen Beckwith was a 28-year-old bank clerk, married, with a four-year-old daughter, and in good health.  He considered himself to be a good Christian.  On the evening of November 30, 1887, at about ten o'clock in the evening, Beckwith was bicycling home from a visit with a freind.  His terrier dog Strap was trotting along beside him.  Suddenly Strap rushed toward a gorse, barking.  Beckwith assumed the dog had spotted some sort of animal, but Strap would not return when called.  As Beckwith investigated, he found the dog frozen in place, staring into the bushes, neither willing to go ahead or back.  Lying in the bushes was a figure, small and frail-looking, staring at Beckwith without speaking.  It appeared to be a girl, somewhat odd looking, dressed in a thin gown, her hands behind her back.  Examining the girl further, he found a huge gash on her neck, although no blood was present.  The girl's hands were bound tightly behind her back .  She did not appear to understand what he was saying.  Beckwith assumed her to be a foreigner.  He freed the girl and lifted her up; she was exteremly light.  Beckwith bound her wound with his handerchief and no blood appeared on the cloth.  Beckwith felt she looked to about six years old, but had the form a one a decade older.  She was about three and a half feet tall.  He carried her to the road just as it started to rain.  The local constable bicycled by and stopped, appearing not to notice the girl in Beckwith's arms.  Beckwith placed the girl on his bicycle and headed home.  His wife greeted him, but also did not see the girl.  Indeed, she placed her hands on the hadlebars of the bicycle and they went completely through the girl's body as if the girl were not only invisible but also not there.  Fearful to bring the girl into his house, Beckwith placed her in the kennel with his grayhound Bran.

The following day, the girl -- which he now knew (but did not admit) was a fairy -- was dancing merrily around the kennel.  Still she did not speak.   He could find no food that she could eat, but she seemed happy and healthy, and could communicate in some unknown way with the greyhound.  His wife still could not see the girl, and he hesitated to tell her about this being he had found.  His daughter, however, could see the fairy, although she steadfastly refused to admit it to Beckwith.  Like the dog Brtan, she seemed to be able to communicate with the fairy in some unknown fashion.  The days passed into months.  The fairy, whom Beckwith had named Thumbeline, played and danced with his daughter and with Bran.  Thumbeline appeared to be attracted to Beckwith, trying to kiss him and removing her gown to appear naked, displaying no modesty whatever.  She remained in the kennel, trapped there by zinc wire, which somehow repelled her.  Later, she learned to get out of the kennel by hitching a ride on Bran.  She often entered the house and would have joined Beckwith in his bedroom had he not placed zinc wires across his threshold.  Thumbeline would play poltergeist-like tricks while in the house.  She apparantly resented May, Beckwith's wife.

Florrie (Beckwith's daughter) and Bran would spend much the days playing with the fairy.  sometimes Strap the terrier would join in, until Strap was found dead one day, and Florrie and Bran would continue their play around the dead dog's body without acknowledging it.  

Finally, in May, Florrie and Bran disappeared.  Their prints were found leading to the river, but not near it.  They -- and the fairy -- were never seen again. 

A strange little tale, emphasizing the glamour that a fairy can cast upon humans.  Beckwith appears helpless to in the face of it, often refusing to see any potential dangers.

From a review in goodreads:  "Hewlett claims that everything within its pages is true, and his own experiences of the fairy kingdom.  He is entirely unyielding in his assertion that his encounters with fairies, dryads and god are real events that he has personally experienced, though he concedes they may have been hallucinations.

" 'The Lore of Proserpine' is a combination of biography, anecdote, fairy lore, mythology, philosophy and anthropology, which to truly appreciate, the reader had to take Hewlitt at his word, suspend one's disbelief and accept the possibilty of fairies.  Hewlitt himself treats his subject matter with deadly seriousness, frequently reminding the reader not to impose human morals on a fairy, and pontificating that to call a fairy benevolent or malevolent is like calling a bee benevolent when it makes honey and malevolent when it stings you." -- Eleanor Toland

Maurice Hewlitt (1861-1923) was an English historical novelist, poet, and essayist. publishing nearly 45 books in his lifetime, including 18 well-respected historical novels.  He was a friend of Christian mystic Evelyn Underhill and of the poet Ezra Pound.  His friend J. M. Barrie named one of the pirates in Peter Pan after Hewlitt's son.  He was recognized as an influence on writer Ford Madox Ford, who praised Hewlitt's 1904 novel about Mary Queen of Scots, The Queen's Quair (it "taught me a good deal").  Hewlit separated from his wife Hilda after 26 years of marriage due, in part, to her increasing interest in aviation -- Hilda had become the first woman in the UK to get a pilot's licence.

The Lore of Proserpine is available to read online at Project Gutenberg.

Monday, January 22, 2024


Frank Gruber toiled unsuccessfully for years trying to break into the writing game.  Late in 1934, editor Rogers Terrill asked if he could supply a 5500-word filler story for Operator 5 magazine by the next day.  He did, and his career began to boom.  He wrote over 300 stories for 40 pulp magazines, published over 60 novels, selling more than 90 million copies, and wrote 65 screenplays and hundreds of television scripts.   Gruber created three television series:  Tales of Wells Farge, The Texan. and Shotgun Slade.  Among his most popular detective characters were the team of Johnny Fletcher and Sam Cragg, featured in fifteen nvels.  Fletcher and Cragg are small-time scam artists, eking out a living trying to sell books about physical culture, using the brawny Cragg as an exemplar.  Other popular characters were the human encyclopedia Oliver Quade  and his sidekick Charlie Boston, the flashy Otis Beagle, and Simon Lash.  Gruber published two dozen western novels, beginning with Peace Marshal (1939); the book, rejected by every New York agent at the time, became the successful Richard Dix film The Kansan, and went on to sell more than a million copies.

The French Key was scripted by Gruber and based on his first Johnny Fletcher-Sam Cragg mystery.  Fletcher and Cragg skip out of their low-rent room, sneaking back to pick up their trunks.  They find a body in the room -- a man holding a gold coin.  Fletcher learns from a numismitist name Vedder (Vedder was one of Gruber's pen names) that the coin is a supposedly rare Spanish one.   Turns out there's a gold smuggling ring melting down the stolen gold into rare coins.  Not only do Fletcher and Cragg have to solve the murder, they have to located the stolen gold.  Albert Dekker stars as Johnny Fletcher and muscleman Mike Mazurki plays Sam Cragg.  Evelyn Akers is onboard as eye candy.  Playing the incompetent Detective Fox is Three Stooges' "Curly Joe" DeRita.  Walter Colmes directed.  This was the only Fletcher-Craig story filmed, although a Johnny Fletcher radio series ran for six mnonths on ABC in 1948.  In addition, Gruber wrote one episode of the television anthology series Suspense featuring Sam Cragg, sans Johnny Fletcher.

Enjoy this wise-cracking mystery comedy.

Saturday, January 20, 2024


 Jim & Jesse McReynolds.

Friday, January 19, 2024


 This is issue #5 of the Hero Books comic A Feature Presentation (formerly Women in Love --which to my mind is a strange turnaround).  Alas, there was no further adventures of The Black Tarantula.  Perhaps thos Women in Love stomped that sucker flat...I would have, then I would have torched that thing with a flamthrower.  Hate spiders.  Hete 'em.  Hate 'em.  Hate 'em. 

Anyway, here's your chance to read about The Black Tarantula.  (For what it's worth, I think it would behoove you much better to associate with furry little bunnies.  Arachids, ugh!)

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


The Adventures of the Abbotts (1954-1955; NBC Radio) was the second incarnation of a radio series featuring characters created by Frances Crane, following The Abbotts (1945-1947; the Mutual Network).  Jean and Pat Abbott were a married San Francisco crime-solving couple, many of whose two dozen mysteries took place whle the couple were vacationng.  The books were moderately light-hearted but did not rise to the level of Frances and Richard Lockridge, Kelley Roos, Craig Rice, or the adventures of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence.  Claudia Morgan and Les Damon starred in the NBC run of the show.

The Abbotts are asked by an insurance salesman to investigate the death of a drugstore chain operator.  Rick MacDonald died in a car crash while traveling at only 32 miles an hour before the car plummited off a cliff.   The car was bought only a few days before, leading the insurance man to suspect that the dealer was at fault.  One puzzling aspect, though, was a purple scooter found in the car at the time of the accident, and MacDonald had no children.  Where did the scooter come from and why was it in the car?

Enjoy this little puzzler.


 "Sold to Satan" by Mark Twain (from Europe and Elsewhere, 1923; reprinted several times, including in The Light Fantastic:  Science Fiction Classics from the Mainstream [1971, edited by Harry Harrison.], The Arbor House Treasury of Science Fiction Masterpieces [1983, edited by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg, also published as Great Tales of Science Fiction, 1985], The Science Fiction of Mark Twain [1984], Tales of Wonder [2003, by Mark Twain], and Sympathy for the Devil [2010, edited by Tim Pratt]; a casual check of the internet did not reveal any earlier print of the story than the 1923 collection.)

Can a deal-with-the-devil story be considered science fiction rather than fantasy?  It can, if it is in the capable, inventive, and satiric hands of Mark Twain.  "Sold to Satan" takes the latest (and often misnderstood) findings of Marie Curie and uniquely applies them to this trope.

At a time of economic downturn, the author devises a way to raise a stake in an effort to make his fortune.  The obvious way to do this, of course, is to sell one's soul to the devil.  After making contact with Satan's local agent, the devil appeared, -- not with a crash of thunder or the stench of brimstone, but at least in his tradition garb:  "tall, slender, graceful, in tights and trunks, a short cape mantling his shoulders, a rapier at his side, a single drooping feather in his jaunty cap, and on his intellectual face the well-known and high-bred Mephistophelian smile" -- the traditional appearance of Lucifer on many a theatrical stage.

After half an hour of the usual negotiations and chat, the author remarks that Satan appeared surprisingly different from tradition, despite his physical looks.  The reason, Satan said was because of his body makeup:  he was made of radium, and at six foot one, he would have weighted some two hundred fifteen pounds had he been made of flesh; being made of radium his weight was close to nine hundred.

This started the author to thinking.  At, say, $3,500,000 a pound, that would amount to an incredible sum.  Satan laughed and remarked that the author was "the first person who has ever been intelligent enoiugh to divine the large commercial value of my make-up."

But how to take advantage of this newly-found store of wealth?

Radium, as Madame Curie has determined is spontaneously luminous.  It can spontaneously charge itself with electricity and has the property of liberating heat spontaneously and continually.  Barium (which she names radium) is covered with bismuth (which she names polonium); if a way can be devised to remove the polonium, the aweson power of radium could be unleashed.  "Polonium, freed from bismuth, is the one and only powere that can control radium, restrain its destructive forces, tame them, reduce them to obedience, and make them do useful and productive work for your race."  Satan's skin, in fact, is made of polonium; the rest of him is 100% radium.  If it were not for the polonium shielding them from Satan's make-up, the souls in Hell would have been burned to nothingness eons ago; as it stands, though, they can remain available to be tortured for millennia.

The smallest atom is known to be hydrogen, but the radium atom is actually 5000 times smaller.  A single electron of radium is enough to power a firefly's light, and does.  Were it not for the polonium protecting the firefly from the truly powerful effect of the radium electron, the firefly would be consumed to vapor.  To demontrate the power of radium, Satan pointed a finger at the author's letterpress and "it exploded with a cannon crash. leaving nothing but vacancy where it stood."

Many animals, on knowing that they are going to die, assemble at one spot, as with the well-known elephant's graveyeard.  For extimct mastodons, this was located off the mouth of the Lena.  The bones of the moa can be found twenty feet deep somewhere in New Zealand.  And for millions of years, there has been a firefly cemetery, where thise insects go when sickness falls upon them -- it os located in a scooped-out bowl half the size of a standard room on the top of a snow summit of the Cordileras.  All that remains of the firefly being the single electron of radium, sheathed on polonium -- the firefly cemetery cold provide enough power to light the entire world until the end of eternity.

What an opportunity!  All that is needed is for that remarkable female Fench scientist to isolate the polonium from the bismuth.  Surely, with her genius, that will happen soon.  In the meantime, the author is selling shares in a new venture to be realized when that day happens.  Apply to Mark Twain.

A brief and interesting take on the scientific achievements of the day from a man who was no stranger to fantastic writing, as evidence by his A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, "The Curious Republic of Gondour," "Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven," and others.

"Sold to Satan" is available on online in Europe and Elsewhere.  A quick and amusing read.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Based on a 1939 episodic novel by Paul Gallico, The Adventures of Hiram Holliday (1956-1957) told the story of a newspaper proofreader whose publisher rewarded him with a world tour after the proofreader saved the publisher a large amount of money (by inserting a comma into some news copy, no less).  Cox, as Holliday, journeyed the world with his reporter sidekick, Joel Smith (played by Ainslie Pryor).  Holliday, who had secretly trained himself in many physical skills, solved crimes and thwarted foreign spies at every port of call.  Several times, he encounter criminal mastermind Sebastian Cabot (under different names; in this episode, Gemel).  What I remember most from the series was Holliday's skill with his umbrella, using it as a sword in encounters with the bad guys.

The program aired only 20 if its 23 episodes during its first run in the United States.  The remaining three episodes premiered on British television.  All 23 episodes were later briadcast in America,

In "The Sea Cucumber," Holliday's search for a rare sea cucumber convinces foreign spies that it is simply a cover for espionage.

Actor Wally Cox (1924-1973) starred for three years (1952-1955) in the popular comedy Mr. Peepers as junior high school science teacher Robinson J, Peepers.  He was then featured in the title role in The Adventures of Hiram Holliday.  He was the very recognizable voice of Underdog (1964-1967).  He is also remembered as the upper left corner of the square in the game show Hollywood Squares frpm 1966 to 1973.  A popular character actor and comic, Cox appeared in many television programs and was featured in 20 films, including The Bedford Incident, Morituri, and The Yellow Rolls-Royce.  He was a life-long friend of Marlon Brando and was once his roommate (leaving because he could not stand Brando's per raccoon).  Brando once said that if "Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after;" and once, while under the influence of marijuana, Brando said that Cox had been the love of his life.  Another close friend was actor Robert Blake.  Cox, meanwhile, was thrice-married.  His mild and meek persona was belied by his physical abilities and his real-life hobby was riding motorcycles.  He had a strong intellectual bent and, at one time had outfitted his own scientific lab in his home.  Although he reportedly died of an accidental overdose of sleeping pills, Brando insisted that Cox had succumbed to a heart attack.  Brando kept Cox's ashes hidden in a closet for three deacades and they were eventually scattered at the same time after Brando's death.

I loved The Adventures of Hiram Holliday as a kid.  I hope you like this episode.

Sunday, January 14, 2024


Openers:  My Lord Dunwilliam wa not, to say the least, in a good mood.  The interior of the coach was cold, the road, if the snow-coverd track could be so designated, was rough, and his lordship was tossed upwards, then flung from side to side, and the coachman, who was steadily freezing high up on his elevated seat, trembles as Dunwilliam gave vent to his rage.

"Blind, blockheaded cretin, drive round the bloody holes, not in them!"

Had he been given the gift of free speech, Coggins, for such was the coachm,an's name, might well have pointed out that in a blinding snowstorm it was a miricle that he had so far kept the coach on four wheels, but not being so gifted he did his best to guide the team of four horses on what he devoutly trusted was the centre of the road.  His trust was misplaced.

The coach reeled over, then slid into what appeared to be a deep ditch; the horses screamed as they were pulled backwards, and Coggins fell from his perch and landed in a deep pile of snow.  He clambered to his feet and hastened to aid his employer, whose scarlet face was glaring at him from the remains of the near-side window.

"You bloated, addle-brained imbecile."  His lordship was impelled to desist while he made the perilous descent from tilted coach to snow-coated road, then he took a deep breath and continued.  "You wall-eyed son of Jezebel, you maggor-ridden ball of excreta, by what devil and all his angles do you think you're doing?"

"Snow, me Lord."  Coggins spoke quickly, knowing he had little time before the next outburst.  "Ditch, me Lord, couldn't see it, me Lord."

Lord Dunwilliam is arrogant, imperious, and very quick to anger, sure of his position well above lesser mortals.  He had been traveling to Bala for an important appointment regarding an estate he had inherited.  Determined to make the appointment, he ordered Coggins to saddle on of the horses, and despite the coachman's fervant pleas, set off for the eight or so miles left to Bala.  The road was dark and the storm remained fierce and Dunwilliam soon lost his way.  Still he pushed on, with the fierce determination that made the world bow to him.  He might have perished in the storm had he not spied a lighted window a little before him.  Dunwilliam banged at the door and barged into the small farmhouse, which belonged to a widowed farmer, Evan ap Evans, and his daughter, eightee-year-old Silah.  Evans was as imjpoerious as Dunwilliam, but his preternaturally calm daughter displayed a quiet demeanor and had "the slim grace of a gazelle."  Dunwilliam, used to getting his own way, determined to have the girl one way or the other.  He and Evans spent much of the time arguing when there was the sound of a horn from the storm, as well as the baying of hounds.  This, Dunwilliam was told was the phantom figutre Arawn and his Cnw Annwn -- the Dogs of Hell.  Arawn had taken Silah as his lover and his cold demonic nature spelled doom for any who would thwart him.  Dunwilliam felt this was poppycock and that some local lout was playing on Evans's supernatural nature.  As Dunwilliam steals the girl and rides off into the storm, the Cnw Annwn follow.  And as they rend his flesh appart, Dunwilliam is soon to learn that an even more terrible fate awaits him...

-- "Lord Dunwilliam and the Cwn Annwn" by R. chetwynd-Hayes (first published in Welsh Tales of Terror [1973], edited by Chetwynd-Hayes; reprinted in his short story collection Terror by Night [1974])

Ronald Chetwynd-Hayes (1919-2001) was a British writer and anthologist of ghost and horror stories, with thirteen novels, twenty-seven short story collections, and twenty-six anthologies to his credit.  He edited twelve volumes of the Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories following the death of Robert Aickman, the original editor; he also edited five volumes in Fontana's Tales of Terror anthologies.   Chetwynd-Hayes received the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement from the British Fantasy Society.  He was portayed by John Carradine in the 1981 film The Monster Club.


  • Robert Bernard, Death and the Chaste Apprentice.  Mystery.  "Des Capper, landlord of Saracen's Head, a splendid Elizabethan inn, has been called a bore, a snoop, and other things not fit to print.  Currently he was provoking his newest arrivals, the performers of the Ketterick Arts Festival -- as rowdy a group as ever trod the boards.  Des thought knowledge was power and was busy digging up secrets to 'get' someone good.  The brilliant conductor with the Casanova complex...the gorgeous Russian soprano with a taste for bit players,,,the theatrical couple with a marriage so open it had a revolving door...all of them -- and scads of others -- soon had the urge to kill Des.  Finally, someone did. But why would be the best-kept secret of all."  Barnard was one of our most literate and inventive mystery writers.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Forbidden Tower.  A Darkover novel.  "This is the novel of four who defied the powers of the matrix guardians -- fanatics who protected those powers so that the planet of the ruddy sun might never fall beneath the influence of materialistic Terrans.  The four who found themselves fused into a terrifying untiy in that defiance were two men and two women.  The men were Damon Ridenow, a Comyn of the ruling caste, and Andrew Carr, the Earthman who had won for himself the right of clan-entry.  The women were Ellemir, betrothed of Damon, and Callista, who foreswore her vows to seek the love of the alien from the stars.  All the forces of ancient Darkover were to combine to resist this 'unnatural' alliance -- and the novel that grew out of this physical and psychic conflict displays the talent of Marion Zimmer Bradley at its finest."  Also, Ghostlight.  Fantasy.  "In the heady days of the sixties, many people sought solutions to mankind's troubles in secret religions and found that old wisdom had its place in the modern world.  Among them were followers of Thorne Blackburn, all seekers after Truth.  The group settled at Shadow's Gate, a magnificent old house in upstate New York.  During the climatic night of Blackburn's most powerful ceremony, chaos erupted.  Thorne Blackburn had vanished.  and Katherine, Thorne's life partner and the mother of one of his young children, was dead.  All that was thirty years ago, but Truth Blackburn, daughter of Thorne and Katherine, is still seeking truths -- the truth of what happend that night at Shadow's Gate, the truth about the magickal powers her father claimed to wield, the truth about her long-lost half-brother and -sister."  Early in our marriage, when Kitty was pregnant with our first child, we met Bradley at a convention; she gushed over Kitty's pregnancy.  At that next year's convention, with three-month-old Jessie in tow, the first person we saw was Bradley, who came rushing over to congratulate us and to fawn on the baby.  Years later, we and the world discovered what a truly horrible person she was.  So it goes.
  • Philip Jose Farmer, The Magic Labyrinth.  The climax to the Riverworld novels.  "You are in this book.  So is everyone else who ever lived or ever will -- all humanity simulaneously reincarnated on the banks of the 10 million mile river that forms the setting for what many consider to be the crowning achievement of modern science fiction."  This was not the final Riverworld novel published, but any stories that followed this book would "fill in a tapestry now complete."
  • John Faulkner, Cabin Road.  Southern comic novel, a Gold Medal original.  "In this new John Faulkner novel, the ribald, hilarious, bewildered Jones Peabody takes his lusty place with Jester Lester of Tobacco Road and the unforgettable creations of Erskine Caldwell, William Faulkner, and John Steinbeck.  You will howl with delight over the female problems of Jones Peabody, of the Government Man, of Uncle Good and his 'girls,' of ex-Senator, and a list of earthy, uninihibited males and females such as you have never met before on earth or in hesaven."  Faulkner was the younger brother of William Faulkner.  He wrote nine novels, five of them paperback originals, including Uncle Good's Girls, The Sin Shouter of Cabin Road, Ain't Gonna Rain No More, and Uncle Good's Weekend Party -- all books from a time long gone.
  • "Michael Innes" (J. I. M. Stewart),  Appleby's Answer.  Mystery, the 27th novel in the John Appleby series.  "When Priscilla Pringle, a well-known writer of clerical murder mysteries (heedless of T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral is one of her tomes), learns that the last rector of a West Country village died under questionable circumstances, she decides to see if there's material for a new book.  Priscilla's curiosity is piqued by Captain Bulkington, a peculiar resident of the village who is seeking her advice on an ingenious murder device for a novel he may be writing.  As the manical plot twists accumulate and Miss Pringle becomes aware of a deadly reality, Sir John Appleby, retired Commissioner of Metropolitan Police, tries to help unravel the lethal puzzle.  Fast-paced, literate, and gently satirical, this suspense novel is Michael Innes at his delightfully urbane best."
  • Raymond F. Jones, Renegades of Time.  Science fiction novel.  "The Algorans, masters of time travel [sic] had lost control of the time channels.  In despair, they stood helplessly by as the barbarian hordes of the devastating Bakori were unleashed on the universe.  In the little town of Midland, U.S.A., Joe Simmons worked feverishly to assemble the only device that has a chance to stop them.  He knew that success depended on a beautiful Algoran woman, Tamarina, yet he didn't even know if she would re-appear!  But he couldn't stop trying.  Thi whole disaster was his fault,"  This was the first "official" Laser Book, a short-lived paperback line produced by Harlequin Books (yeah, the romance guys) and edited by Roger Elwood.  (A previous book -- by Thomas Monteleone -- was issued as a freebie to introduce fans to the paperback line.)   Jones, the author of This Island Earth, and other classic science stories, was a popular writer in the 40s and 50s.  His work in the 60s and 70s -- including this novel -- showed a distinct diminishing of his talents.  His reputation was not helped by this and the other two novels he published with Laser Books.
  • "Cassandra Khaw" (Zoe Khaw Joo Ee), Nothng But Blackened Teeth.  Horror novel.  "A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundation resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her compnay.  It's the perfect venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends brought back together to celebrate a wedding.  A night of food, drink, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare as secrets get dragged out and relationships are tested.  But the house has secrets too.  Lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.  And she gets lonely down there in the dirt."
  • "Muray Leinster" (Will F. Jenkins), Outlaw Guns.  Western, originally published as Wanted -- Dead orAlive!; first serialized under that title in Triple-X Magazine, February, March, April, and May 1929.  "Slim Galway was wanted -- dead or alive, but preferably dead -- by the law and the lwless in Las Alkmas...They put a price on Slim's hed, and it was a stiff one!  Folks reckoned that the lean outlaw had gone loco when he showed up in the valley -- big as life, bold and brazen as Jesse James, and quicker than ever on the draw.  But Slim figured he ha  job to do there -- a little matter of reustlking, murder and mayhem to clear up -- and he aimed to stay until he finished the job.  When his work was done, the man who had ridden into ton as a hunted deperado rode out as a hero!"  I'm a big Leinster fan, and this early by-the-books western adventure is pure gold for me.
  • John Lutz, Dancing with the Dead.  Suspense novel set in the world of ballroom dance ompetitions.  Mary Arlington is "a St. Louis woman with a passion for ballroom dance..  Stuck in a dull real estate job that keeps her in dance lessons and custom-made shoes, caught up in a dead-end relationship with her brutish, loutish lover, Jake, and burdened with an alcoholic mother, Mary puts her heart into her studio lessons with Mel Holt, her instructor/partner, and impromptu rehearsals in front of the bedroom mirror.  Then she learns of the nurder of two women -- one in New Orleans, one in Seattle -- women with two things in common:  a similar appearance and a preoccupation with ballroom dance.  Mary becomes uneasily aware that she bears some resemblance to the women who have been killed.  Rene Verlane, the first victim's husband, suspects that a serial killer os loose, making the ballroom dance circuit and choosing his victims from among the women who enter dance competitions.  Verlane sets out to follow the circuit himself in search of the killer.  Ballroom dancing is the one thing in Mary's life that enables her to transcend her boredom and loneliness.  She and Mel have their eye on the prestigious Ohio Star Ball in Columbus, the biggest competition of the year.  In spite of her fears, she is determined to compete -- even if it mens risking her life."  Lutz and his wife were avid ballroom dancers.
  • Louise Penny, A World of Curiosities.  A Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mystery.  "It's spring and Three Pines is reemerging after a harsh winter.  Not everything buried should come alive again.  But something has.  As the villagers prepare for a special celebration, Armand Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvoir find themselves increasingly worrited.  A young man and woman have reappeared in the Surete du Quebec investigators' lives after many years.  The two were children when their troubled mother was murdered, leaving them damaged, shattered.  Now they've arrived in the village of Three Pines.  But to what end?  Gamache's and Beauvoir's memories of that tragic case, the one that first brought them together, come rushing back.  Did their mother's murder hurt these chilkdren beyond repair?  Are those terrible wounds, buried for decades, about to erupt?  Gamache's alarm grows when a letter written by a long-dead stonemason is discovered.  In it, the man describes his terror when bricking up sn attic room comewhere in the village, years ago.  When the room is found, the villagers decide to open it up.  As the bricks are removed, Gamache, Beauvoir, and the villagers discover a world of curiosities, and more -- puzzles within puzzles, and hidden messages warning of mayhem and revenge."
  • Kwei Quartey, The Missing American.  The first Emma Djan investigation, shortlisted for an Edgar Award.  "Accra, Ghana:  When 26-yer-old Emma Djan's dreams of following in her late father's footsteps in the Ghana Police service crash around her, she barely recovers her career by way of a referral to a private detective agency.  Missing persons, theft, and infidelity cases aren't what she hoped for, but her first investigation, which involves a disappeared American widower who follwed an online connection to Accra, will lead Emma deep into a world of sakawa scams, fetish priests, and those willing to kill to protect their secrets."
  • "Kenneth Robeson" (house name, this time written by J. Allan Dunn and Lester Dent), The Majii.  A Doc Savage adventure, originally published in Doc Savage Magazine, September 1935.  "In New York, Rama Tura, chosen disciple of the Majii, leads Doc Savage into a sinister world of drugs and advanced hypnotism.  Far away in Jondore, a revolt is brewing that will pit THE MAN OF BROINZE against his most devious opponent, the man who cannot die."  Pure pulp, and I love it!
  • "James Rollins" (James Czajkowski) - The Devil Colony.  A Sigma Force thriller.  "The gruesome discovery of mummified bodies deep in the Rocky Mountains -- along with strange artifacts inscribed with an unfathomable script -- stirs controversy and foments unrest.  And when a riot at the dig site results results in the horrible death of an anthropologist captured by television cameras, the government focuses its attention on an escaped teenage agitator -- the firebrand niece of Sigma Force director Painter Crowe.  To protect her, Crowe will ignite a war across the nation's most powerful intelligence agencies.  But the dark events have set in motion a frightening chain reaction:  a geological meltdown that threatens the entire western half of the U.S.  And the unearthed truth could topple governments, as Painter Crowe joins forces with Commander Gray Pierce to penetrate the shadowy heart of a sinister cabal that has been manipulating American history since the founding of the thirteen colonies."  This is the seventh (of, thus far, sixteen) novels in the Sigma Force series.  The author also writes as "James Clements."
  • Harry Turtledove, The House of Daniel.   A fantasy novel with baseball.  "When the Big Bubble busted back in '29, seemed like it took half of the magic and work in the world with it...And life in the United States hasn't been the same since.  Hotshot wizards will tell you nothing's really changed, but then again, hotshot wizards aren't looking for honest work in Enid, Oklahoma.  No paying jobs at the mill, because zombies will work for nothing.  The diner on Main Street is seeing hard times as well, because a lot fewer folks can afford to fly carpets in from miles away.  Sober, penniless desperation can push a man like Jack Spivey to do funny things.  Violent things.  So when Big Stu, the guy who calls the shots in Enid, requests that he rough up a rival thug with the promise of a hundred-dollar payoff, Jack's conscience spreads its wings and flies off into the Oklahoma sunset.  That is, until he sees the person he's supposed to 'deal with' is a beautiful young woman.  Unfotinately for Jack, Big Stu isn't the type of man to let defiance go unpunished.  Against the odds, Jack finds a means of escape by securing a spot on the House of Daniel -- a brash band of barnstromers who'll take on any team, and whose antics never fail to entertain.  Now they're off to tour an America that's as shot through with magic as it is dead broke."
  • Harry Turtledove & Martin H. Greenberg, editors, The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century.  Doorstop anthology with thirteen stories and novelettes.  Authors are Poul Anderson, Philip K. Dick, Joe W. Haldeman, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card, David Drake, Harry Turtledove, Corwainer Smith, George R. R. Martin, Gregory Benford, Walter Jon Williams, C. J. Cherryh, and Anne McCaffrey.  Impressive lineup.  Impressive stories.
  • Donald E. Westlake, Thieves' Dozen.  Collection of eleven Dortmunder stories -- actually, ten Dortmunder stories and one related story.  (There was one further Dortmunder story after this book was published:  "Walking Around Money," a novella in Ed McBain's anthology Transgressions.)  Dortmunder, May, Andy Kelp, Rollo the bartender, Arnie Alrbright the fence, and the regulars at OJ's Bar are here in full form.  I haven't checked all the stories, but I think Tiny Bulcher, Stan Murch, and Murch's Mom are missing from this collection -- which is a shame.
  • Charles Willeford, Cockfighter.  Gritty novel of the world of -- you guessed it -- cockfighting.  "Frank Mansfield is the COCKFIGHTER.  Relentless, enigmatic, possessed of a gut instinct for survival and a powerful obsession with winning in a flourishing but illegal sport which sophisticated people never discuss...for it is unspeakably cruel, unthinkably bloody -- and incredibly exciting.  COCKFIGHTER is the stunning novel of a single-minded man whose pursuit of the Cockfighter of the Year medal takes him into the seamy underbelly of rural Southern life...into the hot, dusty small towns where hoarse, sweating men crouch around a cockpit, cheering as two gamecocks with steel spurs tear at each other...and where beautiful, willing women administer their own special brand of succor to winner and loser alike."  Like many of Willeford's novels, this is not an easy book to read.
  • Don Winslow, The Dawn Patrol.  Crime novel, the first Boone Daniels book.  "It's dawn in Pacific Beach California as Boone Danils, a laid-back private investigator in board shorts and with sleuthing skills to burn, straddles his long board, ut on the line.  With him are his Dawn Pareol buddies -- High Tide, a seriously big Samoan, Dave the Life Guard -- aka Dave the Love God -- and Johnny Banzai, a San Diego homicide detective when he's not in the water.  Then there's Sunny -- tall, blond, a real California girl.  She's also the best surfer of the lot, and has, well, history with Boone.  A huge Pacific storm is coming, bringing with it onc-in-a-lifetime waves -- Sunny's last chance to be snapped riding one big wave and make pro.  So when Boone takes a case involving one dead and one missing stripper with the help -- or hindrance, Boone thinks -- of uptight lawyer Petra Hall, he's determined to wrap it up in time for the epic surf.  But all sorts of trouble follows with Hawaiian gangs and trafficked Mexican girls, as the case turns dark and personal, raising ghosts from Boone's troubled past and dragging in Sunny and the rest of the Dawn Patrol.  The currents turn treacherous on land and at sea as the big swell makes landfall and Boone has to fight just to keep his head aove water..."  This one was a finalist for both the Barry and the Dilys Awards.

The Great Molasses Flood:  Molasses is a thick, viscuous substance obtained from the refining of sugarcane or sguar beet juice into sugar.  It differs according to the the amount of sugar, the method of extraction, and the age of the plant.  It is used in cooking and i the making of brown sugar.  It was popular in America before and into the beginning of the 20th century.  It is one of the main ingredients used to distill rum, and had been used as an ingredient in making beer during the colonial days -- George Washington had a recipe for molasses beer in one of his notebooks. It can also be used as a minor component of mortar for brickwork.  Molasses can be used to make ethanol and can be a key component in munitions.  It is a very versatile substance.

I liken its consistency to that of the resins which trapped insects millions of years ago in amber.

In 1919 Boston, the Purity Distilling Company's storage facility on Commerce Street was used to store off-loaded molasses from ships prior to beoing sent to its ethanol plant in Canbridge via pipeline.  The m olasses tank was fifty feet tall and 90 feet in diameter; it could hold as much as 2,3 million gallons of the stuff.  Wednesday, January 15, was considerably warmer than the days previous and the temperture climbed to 40 degrees Farenheit.  A fresh load of warm molasses was delivered the day before.  It is possible that the older, cooler mollases in the tank began to expand.  In any event, around 12:30 pm, the tank burst open and collapsed, likely due to sylinder stress failure.  The ground shook, there was a deep roaring as a thiunderclap, and rivets shot out of the tank like automatic fire.  A wave of molasses 25 feet high moved through that part of the city at 35 miles an hour.  Nearby buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed.  A streetcar momentarily tipped on the city's elevated railway ad the panels of the tank slammed against the girders of the elevated.  Waist deep molasses covered the street.  Horses "died like so many flies on sticky fly-paper."  People were picked up and tossed by a rush of air.  A truck was hurled into Boston Harbor.  Twenty-one people died and over 150 were injured, eityher by the flood itself or by flying debris.  Victims included two ten-year-old children, a homemake, and a number of workers in the area.

Salt water from a fireboat was used to wash the molasses away, along with sand to absorb it.  Boston 
harbor was brown with molasses until summer.  It took weeks to clean the immediate area and much longer to clean up the city.  Rescue workers, clean-up crews, and sight seers tracked molasses everywhere and "Everything that a Bostonian touched was sticky."

A small plaque titled "Boston Molasses Flood" now marks the site.  It reads:  "On January 15, 1919, a molasses tank at 529 Commercial Street exploded under pressure, killing 21 people.  A 40-foot wave of molasses buckled the elevated railroad tracks, crushed buildings and inundated the neighborhood.  Structural defects in the tank combined with unseasonably warm tempertaures contributed to the disaster."

Here's the story, as presented by Puppet History:

Some Molasses Songs:
  • "Molasses" by Schooner Fare:
  • "I Like Molasses" by Hank Penny and His Radio Cowboys
  • "Molasses to Rum," from the musical 1776
  • "Black Strap Molasses" nu Danny Kaye, Jimmy Durante, Jane Wyman, and Groucho Marx
  • "Molasses.Molasses (It's Icky Sticky Goo)" by Teresa Brewer
  • "Marmelade Molasses and Honey" by Andy Williams 

A Science Joke AND A Molasses Joke All-In-One:  What do you call 6.02*10^23 butts?  Molasses.

Molasses Recipes:  My mother grew up in the Depression when molasses was a common ingrediant in cooking -- something she brought to her marriage.  When I was a kid, we'd make molasses milk just as often as we would chocolate milk, and Indian pudding was a staple.  I don't think Kitty ever touched molasses and I know my girls never had it at home -- sometimes I think of the things they missed that were common in my childhood.

Anyway, here are some neat recipes using molasses:

Birthdays Galore:  Today, of course, is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.  The slain civil rights leader was born in 1929 as Michael King, Jr.; the name was changed in 1934, as was that of his father, another noted civil rights leader.  Martin Luther King, Jr., was 39 years old when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Other Capricorns sharing today's birth date include Alonso V of Portugal, known as "The African" because of miltary conquests in Northern Africa (b. 1432); Japanese general Maeda Toshiie, on of the leading generals of the Sengoku period in the latter half of the 16th centry, and whose weapon of choice was the yari -- a Japanese blade resembling a straight-headed spear (b. 1538); French playwright Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (a.k.a. Moliere), one of the world's literary greats (Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, The School for Wives) (b. 1658); British doctor John Aikin, whose literary pursuits overtook his medical career, producing biographical and critical works (his Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose, 1773, written with his sister, includes a number gruesome stories reprinted in gothis and horror anthologies (b. 1747); Colonel Richard Martinb, the co-founder of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and who was nicknamed "Humanity Dick" by George IV (b. 1754); Franz Gillparzer, the Austrian dramatist who wrote the oration for Beethoven's funeral (Austria has a pastry named in his honor -- the Gillparzer torte -- and asteroid 30933 bears his name, -- he has been called the national poet of Austria (b. 1791); Norwegian folklorist Peter Christian Asbjornsen, whose fairy tale and folk collections written with Jorgen Engebretsen Moe, remain classics to this day (b. 1812); Josef Breuer, the Austrian physician who helped develop the "talking cure" method used by his protege Sigmund Freud (b. 1842); Mary MacKillop (Mary of the Cross), Australian nun (and later saint) who the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (the Josephites) (b. 1842); Leonard Darwin, English politician, economist, and eugenicist, the son of Charles (b. 1850); Sofia Kovalevskeya, pioneering female mathetician, "the greatest known woman scientist before the twentieth century" (b. 1850); Nathan Soderblom, winner of the 1930 Nobel Peace Prize,  the Church of Sweden's Archibishop of Uppsala and primate of Sweden, and a leader in the ecumenical movement (b.  1866); Thomas Burke Gold Medal Olympian in the 100 and 400 meter sprints in 1896 (b. 1875); Maza de la Roche, the author of the 16 Jalna novels (b. 1879); Grover Cleveland "Slim" Lowdermilk, major league pitcher for the Cardinals, Cubs, Browns, Tigers, Indians, and White Sox from 1909 and 1920 (b. 1885); Ivo Novello, one of the most popular British entertainers in the first half of the 20th century, he had the title role in Hitchcock's The Lodger (1927), and wrote the dialogue for Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932) (b. 1893); and actress Marjorie Bennett, who had a bit roles in Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949), Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), and Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops (1955). and appeared in ten episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as Blossom Kenney (b. 1896).

Also, Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saud of Saudi Arabia, king of Saudi Arabia from 1953 to 1964, and the second son of the nation's founder (b. 1902); Edward Teller, the "father of the hydrogen bomb" (1908); Gene Krupa, noted drummer, whose solo on Benny Goodman's "Sing, Sing, Sing" elevated the role of the drummer in the Big Band Era (b. 1909); Sea Hunt and Airplane! actor Lloyd nolan, father of Beau and Jeff (b. 1913); Alexander Ivanovich Marinesko, Soviet naval officer and captain of the submarine which sank the German transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff in 1945, killing more than 9300 of the more than 10,000 passengers and crew, incuding many civilians, women, and children being evacuated from Prussia -- he eventually became a Hero of the Soviet Union (b. 1913); Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egyptian strongman and president of that country from 1956 until his death in 1970, he nationalized the Suez Canal Company, helped create the United Arab Republic, made movements toward social justice and supported an Egyptian cultural boom, while he was also noted for his authoritarianism and human rights violations, while establishing a dictatorial rule in Egypt (b. 1918); Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York from 1984-2000, he did a lot of good work but vehemently opposed gays rights, as well as the use of condoms to prevent AIDS (b. 1920); George Lowe, New Zealand mountaineer and the last surviving member of the 1953 British Mount Everest Expedition, which saw Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach the top of that peak (b. 1924); Phyllis Coates, actress who played Lois Lane in Superman and the Mole Men and in the first season of television's Adventures of Superman (b. 1927); Earl Zebedee Hooker, Chicago blues slide guitarist, none better (b. 1930); author Ernest J. Gaines (The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, A Gathering of Old Men, A Lesson Before Dying) (b. 1933); former child star Margaret O'Brien (she played opposite Judy in Meet Me in St. Louis), her 1945 juvenile Oscar was stolen in 1954 while her mother was slowly dying and was not recovered until 40 years later when it was spotted in an auction catalog by fans (b. 1937); musician Captain Beefheart, for whom the 60s and 70s were very good, a close on-again/off-again friend of Frank Zappa since high school, Beefheart occasionally played with The Mothers of Invention (b. 1941); Jenny Nimmo, children's author of the Charlie Bone fantasies (b. 1944); Vince Foster, deputy White House counsel, whose 1993 murder spawned conspracy theories from anti-Clinton nutjobs (b. 1945); Princess Michael of Kent, when she married Prince Michael, he was 15th in line to the throne, but lost his rights to succession because she was a Catholic (b. 1945); Charles Brown, the stage actor, not Snoopy's owner (b. 1946); Andrea Martin, comedian and actress, known for Second City, Hedwig and the Angry Itch, Wag the Dog, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding (b. 1947); Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie Van Zant (b. 1948); actor and director Mario van Peebles, son of Melvin (b. 1957); actor Chad Lowe (ER, Melrose Place, Pretty Little Liars), younger brother of Rob (b. 1968); Eddie Cahill, who played Don Flack on CSI:  New York and Sam Verdeaux in the final two seasons of Under the Dome, and he played the character who killed Special Agent Chris Lasalle in CSI:  New Orleans (b. 1978); Drew Brees, 20-year veteran quarterback in the NFL for the Chargers and, most notably, the Saints (b. 1979); Rapper Pitbull, who did no one any favors by claiming the COVID-19 was a conspiracy (a "scamdemic, plandemic"), nontheless his work has received 143 nominations and 46 wins (b. 1981); and Grace VanderWaal, singer, ukelele player, and America's Got Talent winner, who also stars in Disney's Stargirl and Hollywood Stargirl (b. 2004).

(I love doing these birthday tributes because it allows me to do a deeper dive into the lives of many people about whom I previously knew little.)

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Troy Dean Stuart, 35, was arrested by Cape Coral police for prowling around a back yard with underwear around his neck.  Police found him lyng on his stoimach between a hedge and brush by a seawall.  He told police that he was just on a run around the canal and the underwear was to keep jhiom warm.  A neighbor reported that two bonsai trees were stolen from his home; plice said they found the bonsai trees at Stuart's home, but they were not the stolen items.  I have questions.
  • Vanity may have been the undoing of an unnamed 43-year-old Florida Man.  The man allegedly stole a cash register from a Flagler Cunty Walmart store.  Surveillance footage was taken of the crime and police ran it through a facial reconition program, identifying the man with an extensive criminal record.  He was traced to north Carolina but police were unable to dfind a definite location for him to make an arrest.  Then  the fool posted a picture of himself on social media wearing the same outfit used in the robbery.  Police were then able to  tracked him to Central Florida where they made the arrest.  He is now charged with unarmed burglary and grand theft.
  • An unnamed Florida Man let tiredness get the best of him as he fell asleep at a stop sign in Brevard County with his right hand still on the gear shift.  Police arrested the m,an after they found cocaine, a Four Loco, and meth inside the car.  He was charged with possession of a controlled substance wihout a prescription, possession of drug paraphenalia, and driving while under the influence.
  • Florida Bigot Alexandet Lightner, 26, has been arrested by federal agents for making online threats about commiting a racially motivated mass shooting and for possession of an unregistered firearm.  The posts were made on December 29 and threatened action in 2024.  Agents found multiple firearms, ammunition, a silencer, and whiote supremicist literature in Lightner's home.  Lightner admitted to making the posts, but said he was drun at the time.
  • In a cautionary tale, Florida Man Austin Powers (yes, that's his real name), 26, was arrested for using Snapchat to meet and abuse a 14-year-old girl in Largo.  Power was a registered sexual offnder who had been charged with a similar crime in 2016.  Officials noted that Snapchat is a haven for sexual predators and a major toll in their attempts to meet and abuse children.

Good News:
  • Hockey fans hurl 75,000 teddy bears onto ice for charity, breaking record
  • A new non-invasive test dould make it easier for doctors to predict success in IVF treatments
  • In a complete turnaround, East Palo Alto went from a "murder capital" to zero homicides in thirty years
  • People rspoinded in droves when a dog shelete made a plea for tempoary homes as temperatures plummited
  • Montreal teens save couple from drownig in Barbados
  • Dog that would not stop digging saves entire neighborhood as hidden underground gas leak is disxovered
  • Small mouse tidies man's workbench while he sleeps -- video

Today's Poem:
On a Highway East of Selma, Alabama


As the sheriff remarked:  I had no business being there.  He was right, but for the wrong reasons.  
Among that odd crew of volunteers from the North, I was by far the most inept and least effective.  I couldn't have inspired or assisted a woodchuck to vote.
In fact, when the sheriff's buddies nabbed me on the highway east of Selma, I'd just been released from ten days in jail in Mississippi.  I was fed up and terrified; I was actually fleeing north and glad to go.


In Jackson, they'd been ready for the demonstration.  After the peaceful arrests, after the street cameras recorded us being quietly ushered into trucks, the doors were closed and we headed for the county fairgrounds.
Once we passed its gates, it was a different story; the truck doors opened on a crowd of statetroopers waiting to greet us with their nightsticks out.  Smiles beneath mirrored sunglasses and blue riot helmets; smiles above badges taped so numbers didn't show.
For the next twenty minutes, they clubbed us, and it kept up at intervals, more or less at random, all that afternoon and into the evening.
Next morning we woke to new guards who did not need to conceal their names or faces.  A little later, the fbi arrived to ask if anyone had specific complaints about how they'd been treated and by whoim.
By late that first night, as we sat bolt upright in rows on the concrete floor of the cattle barn waitng for matresses to arrive, one last precise event.  A guard stopped in front of the ten-year-old black kid next to me.  He pulled a freedom now pin from the kid's shirt, made him put it inhis mouth, then ordered him to swallow.

That stakeout at dusk on Route 80 east of Selma was intended for someone else, some imaginary organizer rumored to be headed toward their dismal, godforsaken town.  Why did they stop me?  
The New York plates, perhaps, and that little bit of stupidity:  the straw hat I wore, a souvenir of Mississippi.
Siren-wail from an unmarked car behind me  -- why should I think they were cops?  I hesitated, then pulled to the shoulder.  The two who jumped out waved pistols, but wore no uniform or badges.  By the, my doors were locked, my windows rolled.  Absurd sound of a pistol barrel rapping the glassthree inches from my face:  "Get out, you son of a bitch, or we'll blow your head off!"
When they found pamphlets on the back seat, they were sure they'd got tthe right guy.  The fat one started poking my stomach with his gun, saying, "Boy,we're going to dump you in the swamp."

It was a long ride through the dark, a ride full of believable threats, before they arrived at that hamlet with its cinderblock jail.
He was very glad to see it, that adolescent I was twenty years ago.  For eight days he cowered in his solitary cell, stinking of dirt and fer.  He's cowering there still, waiting for me to come back and release hiom by turning his terror into art.  But consciously or not, he's made his choice and he's caught in history.
And if I reach back now, it's only to hug him and tell him to be brave, to remember that black kid who sat beside him in the mississippi darkness.  And to remember that silence shared by guards and prisoners alike as they watched in disbelief the darkness deepening around the small shape of his mouth, the taste of metal, the feel of the pin against his tongue.
It's too dark for it to matter what's printed on the pin; it's too dark for anythingbut the brute fact that someone wants him to choke to death on its hard shape.
And still he refuses to swallow,

-- Gregory Orr

Let us take this day to remember the courage we must all have to stand against injustice.


I seldom remember my father listening to music, but I do know his favorite singer was Jim Reeves.

Saturday, January 13, 2024


The funny pages and the funny books were not necessarily funny.  Case in pont, this issue.

We start off with "Fury of the Foreign Legion, Episode 3."  Fury, forced to flee his home after being falsely accused of a crime, joins the Foreign Legion.  While the legionaires enjoy a night at the Cafe Banali, a fight between the legionaires and the zouaves breaks out over a dancing girl.  The following day, Fury's company is sent to El Mazzuk to relieve the company there.  El Mazzuk has a deadly repitation for the legionaires.  Halfway to the site, the company is attacked by tribemen.  The commanding officer is killed and  ios adjutant vanishes, only to be found mortally wounded.  The remaining company completes the journey to El Mazzuk with the unconscious officer.  To be continued.

From the desert, we next travel to the waterfront in "Christopher's Coffin."  An incoming tug plows into something as it comes into the harbor.  It's a coffin, complete with corpse.  McDonald of the Waterfront Undercover Force, reads of a punk holding up a gravekeeper for small change.  But why was the punk after small change when he was reportedly wearing diamond rings?  Mac goes over tide and wind charts to determine where the coffin entered the harbor.  This lead them to an abandoned warehouse and the grave of a wealthy man who has been buried with his valuables.  The grave, which was supposedly undisturbed was empty.  A phoney newspeper story is planted to lead the gang to another graveyard robbery.  The gang is captured but the city is on the hook for the cost of a fake funeral.

In "Pursuit," Terry Conaway has just caotured a gang who had attempted to rob the S.S. Queen of India of a shipload of jewels.  Turns out the gang is controlled by international jewel thief von Helsinger.  Terry is determined to capture von Helsinger and travels to his tropical island, onl;y to find that the villai has left for Florida.  [Personal aside:  Could von Helsinger be another Florida Man?]  Trying to reach von Helsinger's sloop, Terry's se plane crashes and he nis taken captive.  Before they can throw Terry to the sharks, he overcomes the baddies and wins the day.

In "Code of the West," Guy Blaine is released from prison and sent to report to the sheriff of Mesa County.  Guy gets a job as a stage coach agent.  Benson, nit realizing that Guy intends to turn over a new leaf, tells Guy to feed him inside information on shipments.  Guy plays along ntil he has a chance to redeem himself.

In "Knickerbocker Knights," adventurer Captain van Dyke, now broke after being cut off by Lord North, his uncle, seeks work.  He is accosted by a swordsman, who then calls for reinforcements.  Soon van Dyke is overpowered and taken to a large ship captained by the dread pirate Teach.  (Bet you thought I was going to say Dread Pirate Roberts, didn't you?)  Teach forces van Dyke to serve as his lieutenant as they sail to attack New Amsterdam.   Van Dyke and a British sailor managed to escape.  Now, they are in the waters of the Atlantic, as Teach sails on to attack New Amsterdam and van Dyke and his companion "strike out lustily for shore -- to new adventures in a primeval forest of a new continent."  To be continued. 

The studio has just given young actress Diana Darling the lead role in "SDtar Dust" in "Kidnapped in Hollywood."  Veteran actress Marge Hall is miffed; she thinks the role should have gone to her. If Diana gies missing the role should go to Marge, so she and her beau Jack Dennis plot to kidnap Diana.  Jack cinvinces a couple of thugs that Diana's father is rich and would pay a healthy ransom for her.  As they race off with their victim, a police car firces them over for speeding.  The bad guys try to run away and one is shot (!!!for speeding!!!  Justice can be brutal in comic books.) and the other is given a knockout punch.    The police nab Marcie and Jack, and Diana receives a million dollars worth of publicity, which can't hurt in Tinsel Town.

Mystery of the Missing Mummy" features Chic Farrell, Operator #38.  Egyptologist Professor Stone is studying a papyrus from the Book of the Dead one evening in his study, surrounded by sarcaphigi and mummies.  A scream awakens his neice and alerts the servants.  The professor is dead -- stabbed in the back at his desk.  The mummy of "Akhton" is missing.   Later that night, a man in a mummy costume uses an ancient power of hypnotism (as revealed in that ancient papyrus) to kidnap the neice and to prevent Bull, Farrell's assistant, from stopping him.  Farrell discovers a secret underground passge to the house next door, arriving in time to stop the villain from tossing the girl and Bull into a huge pit of acid.  The nasty guy, who Farrell shoots, falls into the acid.  It is one of the professor's colleahgues who has been smuggling dope in the bodies of mummies and who after valuable papers locked in the professor's safe.  The writer of this adventure crowds a lengthy explanation into at least 80% of the final panel, crowding Farrell and the girl almost completely out of the page.

In Asgard, the land of the gods, there was a tree containing "The Golden Apples," which gave immortality.  Iduna, a young maiden who was the only person allowed to pick the apples, would give them to the gods, providiong them with eternal life.  Loki, always seeking some sort of mischief, goes to pull a trick on Hymer the Giant, but instead is captured.  Hymer threatens to kill Loki, who -- although being immortal -- has one point on his body which is not affected by immortality.  With Loki's help, Hymer kidnaps Iduna and takes her to his castle.  the gods discover Loki's trickery and forces him to rescue the girl.  The girl escapes on the back of Loki, who has assumed the form of a giant falcon.  But Hymer, now in the form of a giant eagle, gives chase.  Eagle Hymer is about to catch Falcon Loki and Iduna when the might Thor looses an arrow to down the giant.  Now all is well in Asgard.

Then there's an advertisement, listing a gazillion books from Grosset and Dunlop that are availablle for 60 cents each (Sorry, U.S. orders only).  For those of a certain age, the titles are a stroll down memory lane:  series such as The Lone Ranger, The Hardy Boys, Ted Scott, Carl Claudy's Adventure In the Unknown, The X-Bar-X Boys, Jerry Todd, G-Men, Don Sturdy, Nancy Drew, The Dana Girls, Judy Bolton,  Beverly Grey, and miscellaneous Spotlight Books for Boys, L. M. Montgonery and Faith Baldwin Books for Girls, various Well-Known Books and Picture Books.  Ah...memories...Followed by a page of those well-remembered gimmicky ads from our youth -- a genuine portable typewriter for 39 cents, a movie porjector and FIVE films for 98 cents, beautiful blond wigs for 35 cents, a joy buzzer for 28 cents, a "fun" marriage license for 10 cents, a skull and bones ring for 25 cents, a wonderfu x-ray for 10 cents, an extra long jacknife (nine inches long!) for 50 cents, a crystal radio for 25 cents, an electric telephone set for 89 cents the pair, ju-jitso instructions for 30 cents, a live chameleon (watch it change color!) for 25 cents, a repeating sling shot for 25 cents, and so on and so on -- all in a 576-page catalog for only 3 cents!...Those were the days of our gullible youth! 

The stories are crude, ignoring character developement and nuance, while also stretching the boundaries of logic.  The artwork is even cruder, sometimes bearing on the elementary school art class level.  Some pages are in color, some in a red wash, and others in black and white.  But -- all in all -- an interesting look at original comic books in the very early days.


Friday, January 12, 2024


 Martian Sexpot by "Scott O'Neill" (Peg O'Neill Scott Fields)  (1963)

I threw myself under the bus on this one.  I took one for the team.  I read it so you don't have to.  Don't feel obligated to praise me for my sacrifice -- sometimes this happens when you review books.  (Although, if you are so inclined. send money.)

Here is the first draft of this review:


Then I decided a little more is needed.

Martian Sexpot is a collection of six purportedly science fiction stories published by Onsco Publications as a "Jade Book." We are informed that "The Jade Imprint is the sign of the unusual and bizarre in adult reading."  This is a soft-core sleaze book, the eleven to be released in the Jade line.  Others include Homo Hill, Lesbian Lane, Vegas Vice Queen, and Nude Ranch Nymphs.  The cover of this one features a spaceship, an alien landscape, and (prominently) a semi-nude woman with a vapid face and huge tat-tas, wearing only a bikini bottom.  The cover copy reads "Hilarious Adventures in Space and in the Future" and "When you go to Mars, be careful of those dried roots.  They can upset your schedule, affect your sex life, or almist anything!"

The book contains the following stories:

  • "The Instant Maids of Mars"
  • " 'I Tell You, Al!' "
  • "The World's Greatest Salesman"
  • "Dear Mavis"
  • "And They're All Exactly Twenty-Six Years Old"
  • "Speaking of Ganymede --"
Despite the author's efforts, there is no eroticism or sexiness in the stories.  Neither is there any originality, or plot, or original writing.  The entire book reads as though written by a very inexperienced teenager with sub-literate skills.  To call it sophomoric would be to rate it too high.

It is a torturous read, best avoided.

The book does have a brief entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, signed by DRL (presumably Daniel Robert Lewis), which calls it a collection of linked stories (it isn't) and reads, in part, "a mildly comic romp which as indicated by the title features Sex (or the lure of sex) on Mars."  Ahem.  This is not a comic romp, mild or otherwise; rather, it is an affront to the English language.  Also, please note that only one story takes place on Mars.  Not a bright and shining moment for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

I was going to quote some random atrocities, but I decided to spare you.

The author (b. 1936) was married to Lynwood Paul Fields, aka Peter T. Fields (1941-2003), with whom she shared the house pseudonym "Barton Werper," the writer cribber typist who produced five unauthorized Tarzan books in 1964 and 1965. (Tarzan and the Silver Globe, ...and the Cave City, ...and the Snake People, ...and the Abominable Snowman, ...and the Winged Invaders -- I can't find any other books issued by the publisher.)  Although both writers have been credited with the joint pseudonym, evidently Fields wrote four of the books solo, with Scott writing the third book by herself.  The books had a short lifespan, a suit from the Burroughs estate (the ERB people being as fanatical about their money machine as the Disney people are) resulted in all copies being withdrawn.  But the story does not end there.  Tarzan and the Silver Globe was reissued in a tweaked version in 2014 Zamba and the Silver Globe  by ""John Raymond" by Fiction House Press (which also reissued ERB's Jungle Tales of Tarzan as New Tales of Tarzan, and a number of ERB's books (at least one issued under its magazine serial title), as well as The Son of Tarzan, an anonymous 1921 novelization of the silent movie serialization).  "John Raymond" had been the pseudonym of Leonard G. Fish, who published Zamba of the Jungle in 1951.  Confused?  Join the club.

A casual search of the internet showed no further writing by either Peg O'Neill Scott nor her husband.  Just as well.

Thursday, January 11, 2024


A suicide...a missing corpse. .. a mad Nazi scientist...join us as we discover the dark secrets of Dr. Grimshaw's sanitarium.

Based on a story by Fletcher Pratt (Amazing Stories, May 1934); the story was effectively adapted by George Lefferts and directed by Fred Wiehe.  Fred Collins was the announcer.


Wednesday, January 10, 2024


 AHMM has been a standard in the mystery field for 67 years.  It premiered with the December 1956 issus -- a 144 page digest edited by William Manners, who helmed the magazine from its inaugural issue through to the August 1961 issue.  Lisa Belkanp then edited the magazine, ending her run in the December 1962 issue.  Richard E. Decker then served as the magazines editor (January 1963-September 1964), followed by G. F. Foster (October 1964-May 1967), Ernest M. Hutter (June 1967-February 1976), the legendary Eleanor Sullivan (Marxh 1976-November 11, 1981; Sullivan also edited Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine fort nearly 11 years, 1981-1991), the capable Cathleen Jordan then took over the reins from Sullivan (December 9, 1981-June 2002), the current editor, Linda Landirgan, began her turn at the helm with the  July/August 2002 issue and is still going strong.  AHMM publishers have gone from H.S.D. Publications (which also published Manhunt, Murder, Verdict Crime Detection Magazine, and Sleuth -- all under different company names) to Davis Pubication (in 1976) to Dell Magazines (in 1992).  The magazine has evolved from mostly presenting gimmicky stories with surprise endings to a far more nuanced and literate fare.  The authors who have appeared in AHMM read like a Who'sWho in detective and crime short fiction:  Henry Slesar, Evan Hunter, Jack Ritchie, Ed Lacy, Bill Pronzini, Edward D. Hoch, Clark Howard, Donald E. Westlake, Charles Willeford, Lawrence Block, Jim Thompson, Robert Block, John H. Dirckx, Stephen Wasylyk, Ron Goulart, Rhys Bowen, Jan Burke, O'Neil De Noux, Brendan Dubois, James Lincoln Warren,  John F. Dobbyn, David Edgerly Gates, Loren D. Estleman, R. T. Lawton, Rpbert Lopresti, Toni L. P. Kelner, Steven Torres, Sarah Weinman, Elaine Viets, Angfela Zeman, Isaac Asimov, and many many others.  Stories in AHMM have won Edgar. Robert L. Fish, Agatha and Shamus Awards.

Alfred Hitchcock, of course, has nothing to do with the magazine other than licensing his name.  A number of short stories first printed in the magazine were, however, dramatized on Hitchcock's anthology television series.

I am assuming that the original publisher -- for whatever reason -- wanted the magazine's volume numbers to correspond with the calendar year, and, likewise, to have the issue number correspondent to the publication month.  That's why the magazine's first issue (December 1956) is indexed as Volume . Number 12.  There were no Volume 1, Numbers 1-11.  That is also why there is also no Volume 2, Number 4 -- there was no April 1957 issue.

Anyway, I though it would be fun to look back at AHMM's inaugural issue.

  • C. L. Moore, "Here Lies..."  Ann is about to committ suicide by jumpong off a pier.  She is stopped by Cliff, who tries to persude her that suicide is not worth it.  Ann is the divorced wife od a Senate candidate -- a man who cruelly cheated and lied and made her life miserable.  Suicide by drowning did not work and now Ann has a gun in her purse and wants Cliff to shoot her.  Moore was best-known for her science fiction work, both singly and with her husband, Henry Kuttner.  This was one of her last short stories before she embarked on a successful television writing career.
  • William F. Nolan, "The Strange Case of Mr. Pruyn"  Mr. Pruytn goes to the police station to confess to a brutal murder.  This one starts off on a violent note -- more like a story you'd find in Manhunt than you would on an early AHMM,although it ended on a twisty not that you'd expect from AHMM.  A story from early in Nolan's long and successful career.
  • "J. W. Aaron" (John D. Bjorkman), "Death of a Tramp"  Loz Peterson, the town tramp, has been found hanging from a closet door in a guest room at the Williamson ranch.  Sheriff Tom Marking must investigate the death while dealing with an incompetent chief of police, three unusual guests, and the wealthy cattle breeder who owns the ranch.  All indications point to suicide, but was it?  Bjorkman published ten mystery stories over a period of four years.
  • Sam Merwin, Jr., "A Date with Jonathan"  Lurline dispatches her overbearing mother with a meat cleaver and now she has only fifteen minutes before her date with Jonathan, a shoe salesman.  Luckily, the incinerator in their residential hotel had a large door.  Merwin had a long career as a pulp writer, but may have been better known for his editorship of genre magazines, from Thrilling Wonder Stories to Michael Shayne Mystery Magazine.
  • Fletcher Flora, "A Soft Spot for Maddy"  Freddy had a real soft spot for Maddie, his high school sweetheart.  After school he left town and began working his way up in Duke's organization; he soon set Maddie up in his apartment.  They might even get married some day.  Then Freddy fell for Moira, a high-class stripper.  But whatto do about Maddie?  Flora priduced 150 crime short stories in the post-WWII era, as well as 13 novels -- three of which were ghosted for "Ellery Queen."  His first novel, Killing Cousins, won the Cock Robin Mystery Award in 1960.
  • Jim Thompson, "The Cellini Chalice"  Door-to-door con man Mitch Allison manages to get his hands om an old tarnished cup, which he suspects is made of gold.  He unloads on a fence for a thousand bucks.  Then he learns the cup is valuable Cellini chalice and that it has a mate.  Now all that Mitch has to do is to naviagate his way through treacherous waters to get the second chalice.  Sometimes the biter gets bit.  then bit again,  Then the biter bites back.   This was the first of two stories Jim Thompson, a master of the hard-boiled novel, wrote about Mitch Allison.
  • Murray Wolf, "Wetback"  Seventeen-year-old Juan has been in America for two weeks and is staying with his cousin's family, while cautiously afraid that he will be caught by Immigration and sent back to Mexico.  Juan is naive and nows little English; he is unaware the his cousin Antonio belongs to a street gang.  Antonio and his friends take take Juan along as they crash an anglo birthday party in a fancy house.  Then Switch, the leader of the gang, decided to attack a young girl, and that was sopmething Juan could not allow...Murray Wolf had a brief career, publishing just fifteen stories over a period of five years.
  • "Bordon Deal" (Loyse Youth Deal),  "A Bottle of Wine"  Judge Carter's wife, twenty-five years his younger, has left him after ten years for a much younger man.  She returns to his home to pack up her clothes, leaving her new boyfrind in the car.  The Judge has a gun in his pocket.  He invites the man in, and, while she is upstairs packing,  shares a rare bottle of sherry with him -- a bottle that he had been saving for his 25th anniversary...Bordon Deal was the author of 21 novels and over 100 short stories, many set in his native South; ten of his stories appeared in AHMM.   His second wife, Babs Deal, was also an acclaimed novelist and short story writer, publishing two stories in AHMM.
  • Eugene Pawley, "Return Trip"  [We start off at a Nevada gambling establishment, JAKE WIRTH'S PLACE; this rang a bell with me because the Jacob Wirth Restaurant was the second oldest continually-run restaurant in Boston, from 1868 to 2018 -- we always called it Jakey Wirth's Place.  The coincidence has nothing to do with the story but, having been raised 25 miles outside of Boston, I found it amusing.  I have no idea if the author, who had more than thrity pulp stories published over 20 years, came from the Boston area.]  Anyway, when a client delays acceptance of a load from trucker Matt, he has to spend the night in Reno, where blackjack dealer Maggie sends $400 in winnings his way.  Maggie is caught and ordered to leave the city.  Matt offers to take her with him in his truck back to Los Angeles.  On the way to LA, Matt notices a mysterious car following them, and Maggie seems awfully cautious about not letting her luggage stored behind the truck's front seat get out of her sight.
  • Henry Peterson, "Six and Two Make Nine"  A crude cabin, two human skeletons covered in dust on cots, a dust-covered hatchet on the floor, and a diary dated 1754...The diary tells of a shipwreck, with nione survivors making it to a deserted island, where, one by one, they are being mysteriously murdered.  The introduction to this story indicates that this was the author's first story; according to Fictionmags, he only published one more -- in the next issue of AHMM.  Could this have been a pen name?  Who knows?
  • There are five little filler snippets in this issue:  "Banks and Betters," "Full House in the Big House," "Small Bosom -- Big Haul," "Life or Death,"  and "Joe DiMaggio to the Rescue."  Ho-hum.
While not a stellar issue, this is a darned good one, and an auspicious start to sixty-seven years years (and counting) of good mystery fiction.

You can read it here: