Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Sunday, June 30, 2024


Openers:  Miss Pickerell was trying to think of a name for her cow when she heard the telephone ring.

I can't imagine why I've been so neglectful,"  she said to herself as she walked across the bif farmhouse kitchen to the telephone that hung on the wall near the sink.  "Every animal should have a name."

Pumpkins, her large black cat, followed her to the telephone, meowing his agreement.  He jumped up on the high windowsill next to the sink, pushed down two school books and three sheets of lined paper that were lying there, and rolled himself into a comfortable ball.

"Oh, dear," Miss Pickerell sighed.  "Will children never learn to pick up after themselves?"  For an instant she regretted ever having asked her seven nieces and nephews to come an visit her.  She was glad they were out on a picnic this morning.  The house was much more peaceful without them.

The telephone rang again.  Miss Pickerell gave up her idea about putting the books and papers away and answered it.

-- Miss Pickerell Meets Mr. H.U.M. by Ellen MacGregor and Dora Pantell, 1974.

I have made no secret of my fondness for Miss Lavinia Pickerell, the heroine of seventeen charming juveniles published between 1951 and 1986.  The series was created by Ellen MacGregor, who wrote the first four books before passing away in 1954, leaving behind many notes for further books.  The publisher, McGraw Hill, was not able to find someone suitable for continuing the series until ten years later, when they settled on educator Dora Pantell.  Pantell used MacGregor's notes to pen eleven more adventures of the plucky spinster -- all published with Pantell listed as the co-author.  Pantell went on to write two additional books before the series ended.

Miss Pickerell lives on Square Toe farm, locate on Square Toe Mountain, overlooking Square Toe City (part of Square Toe County).   Her best friend and constant companion is her beloved, pampered cow, who has gone nameless for the first seven or eight books in the series.  The cow will soon be given the name Nancy Agatha.  I was sad to see the cow given a name; part of the charm of the series was having Miss Pickerell's best friend (the cow) having no name.  Que sera sera.

In the first book co-authored by Pantell, Miss Pickerell was given a cat, named Pumpkins, which was short for "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pumpkins," a mnemonic for remembering the names of the planets in the solar system from the sun outward (this was back in the days before Pluto was demoted).  Later in the series, Miss Pickerell would also add a dog, Sampson, to the household.  Love and respect for animals and for all of nature is a common theme throughout the series.

Each book in the series also concerns a different scientific area, from space flight to arctic exploration, from energy issues to evolution.  Each topic is carefully researched and painlessly inserted into the books.  In Miss Pickerell Meets Mr. H.U.M. the themes are computers and artificial intelligence (somewhat prescient for 1974).

H.U.M. (Highest Universal Monitor) is a giant computer installed by the Governor to run the state efficiently.  H.U.M.'s edicts are affecting the people of Square Toe City.  Moonburgers are no longer allowed at Mr. Rugby's diner.  Every house in the city must be painted brown.  Miss Pickerell can no longer have mail delivered because she does not have an official index card.  Worst of all, H.U.M. has just decreed that nobody in Square Toe County can own more than one animals!  What will happen to Miss Pickerell's beloved cow and cat?  And to all the other pets in the neighborhood?  Clearly it's time for Miss Pickerell to take action.  And no one takes action better than quiet and demure Miss Pickerell.

The older I get, the more I keep going back to many of the books and series I read as a kid...Miss Pickerell, Oz, Danny Dunn, Tom Swift, The Three Investigators, Tom Corbett, Rick Brant.  It's not senility (I hope); it's just plain fun.


  • James Lee Burke, Another Kind of Eden.  A Holland Family novel.  "The American West in the early 1960s appears to be a pastoral paradise:  golden wheat fields, mist-filled canyons, frolicking animals.  Aspiring novelist Aaron Holland Broussard has observed it from the open door of a boxcar, riding the rails for book inspiration and odd jobs.  Jumping off in Denver, he finds work on a farm and meets Joanne McDuffy, an articulate and fierce college student and gifted painter.  Their soul connection is immediate, but their romance is complicated by Joanne's involvement with a shady professor who is mixed up with a drug-addled cult.  When a sinister businessman and his son, who wield their influence through vicious cruelty, set their sights on Aaron and draw him into an investigation of grotesque murders, it is clear that this idyllic landscape harbors tremendous power -- and evil.  Followed by a mysterious shrouded figure who might not be human, Aaron will have to face down all these foes to save the life of the woman he loves, and his own."
  • Christopher Golden, Mutant Empire, Volume 2:  Sanctuary.  X-Men tie-in novel, the second ion a trilogy.   "Magneto, the X-Men's oldest, deadliest for, has taken over the entire island of Manhattan and declared it a haven for mutants.  ruled by Magneto and his Acolytes, enforced by reprogrammed Sentinels -- giant, powerful robots -- this is the first step to Magneto's ultimate goal of world domination:  the Mutant League.  Now only the X-Men stand between Magneto and that goal.  But the road to victory will not be an easy one, as half the X-Men are trapped in space -- and mutants from all over the world are flocking to Manhattan and taking Magneto's side against the X-Men!"  Golden, best known for his supernatural thrillers, is also an accomplished tie-in and comic book writer.
  • Arthur Maling, Schroeder's Game.  A Brock Potter suspense novel.  "Brock Potter of the brokerage firm of Price, Potter and Petacque was having a weekly Monday-morning staff meeting -- an exceptionally lively one, discussing among other things, the market's performance for the preceding week and the rumor that the Citizens Bank of Northern California was overextended and that the Justice Department was preparing an antitrust suit against Federated Office Equipment -- when his telephone rang.  His secretary knew he didn't want to be disturbed during a meeting, but when he answered the phone she said, 'Mr. Petacque would like to see you in his office.'   'Tell Mr. Petacque I will see him later,' Potter said and put the phone down.  The phone rang again.  It was Potter's partner Mark Price.  'You get your fucking ass into Tom' office this minute,' he shouted, and hung up.  When Potter for to Petacques' office he knew at once something was very serious.  'Go ahead,' Mark Price said to Petacque.  'Tell him.'  "I've decided to sell my interest in the business,' Petacque said.  'You and Mark have first option.  Do you want it?   You have forty-eight hours to make up your minds.' "  Then the murders began...
  • D. R. Meredith, The Sheriff and the Panhandle Murders.  A Charles Matthews mystery, the first in a series.   "Sheriff Charles Timothy Matthews was glad to leave the stress and sprawl of Dallas, and some unpleasant memories, for the quiet of Carroll, a small West Texas town.  Nestled deep in the heart of the Panhandle, a day's drive from the big city Matthews left behind, Crawford County hadn't seen anyone murdered in cold blood for more than 80 years.  And if the sheriff's wish came true, that peace would continue when he took over his new post.  As he settles into the job, the annual Frontier Days are drawing near;  Sheriff Matthews is expecting come rowdiness but no real trouble.  Both he and the entire town are stunned when a shiftless good ol' boy and a pretty teen-age Mexican girl  are found brutally murdered less than 24 hours before the eve of the festivities.  Stern, meticulous, uncompromising,  Matthews narrows down the suspects and finds a surprising amount of information in a town where secrets are hard to keep."
  • Rick Ollerman & Gregory Shepard, editors, The Stark House Anthology.  Celebrating 25 years of one of the best small publishing houses anywhere (yes, I said anywhere), this beauty collects 30 stories from writers well-known and really-should-be well-known.  If there is a list of must-buy books of 2025, this anthology will be on it.  Check out this lineup:  Charles Runyon, Peter Rabe (with a story never before in print), Wade Miller, James McKimmey, Jean Potts, Lionel White, Jada M. Davis (a previously unpublished novel), Dan J. Marlowe, Stephen Marlowe (with a Chester Drum story), Frank Kane (with a Johnny Liddell story), Henry Kane (with a Peter Chambers story), Orrie Hitt (with the only short story he ever published(, Harry Whittington (with a Pat Raffigan story), Gil Brewer, Day Keene, Helen Neilson, Lorenz Heller (writing as "Frederick Lorenz), Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Fletcher Flora. Fredric Brown, Rick Ollerman, Gregory Shepard, Timothy J. Lockhart, Robert W. Chambers and E. Philips Oppenheim (names from the distant past), A. S. Fleishman, Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, and Bruno Fischer.  If you haven't done so, buy this book now!...I'll wait.  And, no, thanking me isn't really necessary.
  • "James Rollins" (James Czajkowski, who also writes as "James Clemens"), The Last Oracle.  The sixth book in the Sigma Force series (Book #18 is scheduled for August publication).  "In Washington, D.C., a homeless man takes an assassin's bullet and dies in Commander Gray Pierce's arms.  A bloody coin clutched in the dead man's hand -- an ancient relic that can be traced back to the Greek Oracle of Delphi -- is the key to a conspiracy that dates back to the Cold War and threatens the very foundation of humanity.  For what if it were possible to bioengineer the next great prophet -- a new Buddha, Muhammed, or even Jesus?  Would this Second Coming be a boon...or would it initiate a chain reaction that would result in the extinction of humankind?  Vital seconds are ticking rapidly away as Pierce races across the globe in search of answers, one step ahead of ruthless killers determined the reclaim the priceless artifact.  Suddenly the future of all things is balanced on the brink between heaven and hell -- and salvation or destruction rests in the hands of remarkable children"
  • Charles Stross, The Fuller Memorandum, The Jennifer Morgue, and The Rhesus Chart.  Three novels in the Laundry Files series of Lovecraftian fantasy thrillers.  In Fuller, "Computational demonologist Bob Howard is taking a much-needed break from the field to catch up on his filing in the Laundry archives when a top secret dossier known as the Fuller Memorandum vanishes -- along with his boss, who the agency's executives believe stole the file.  Determined to discover exactly what the memorandum contained (and perhaps clear his boss), Bob runs afoul of Russian agents, ancient demons, and the apostles of a hideous faith who have plans to raise a very unpleasant undead entity known as the Eater of Souls.  Now Bob must use all of his skills to learn the secret of the Fuller Memorandum in order to save the world -- and avoid becoming an item of the Eater of Souls's dinner menu..."  In Jennifer, "Ruthless software billionaire Ellis Billington has unearthed a device that will enable him, to raise an eldritch horror, code-named 'JENNIFER MORGUE,' from the ocean's depths for the purpose of ruling the world.  Thwarting his devious plan is a job for the Laundry,  And since James Bond doesn't work for the Laundry, it's up to Bob Howard, geekish demonology hacker extraordinaire.  His mission is to inveigle his way aboard Billington's yacht and stop him, while fending off the beautiful but deadly Ramona Random, an American agent with her own agenda..."  And in Rhesus, "As a newly appointed junior manager within the Laundry -- the clandestine organization responsible for protecting Britain against supernatural threats -- Bob Howard is expected to show some initiative to help the agency battle the forces of darkness.  But shining a light on what's best left in the shadows is the last thing Bob wants to do -- especially when those shadows hide an occult parasite spreading a deadly virus.  Traders employed by a merchant bank in London are showing signs of infection -- an array of unusual symptoms such as super-strength and speed, an uncanny talent for mind control, an extreme allergic reaction to sunlight, and an unquenchable thirst for blood.  while his department is tangled up in bureaucratic red tape (and Buffy reruns) debating how to stop the rash of vampirism, Bob digs deeper into the bank's history -- only to uncover a blood-curdling conspiracy between men and monsters..."
  • F. Paul Wilson, A Compendium of F, Volume One:  The Seventies and the Eighties, Volume two:  The Nineties, and Volume Three:  2000 and Beyond.  A massive three-volume collection of Wilson's stories, with new introductions.  I have read most of the stories in other collections, but Wilson's introductions are not to be missed.  Also, Other Sandbozes:  Stories with Characters and Places Shared with Writers Living and Dead.  "Pastiche...sounds like something you might eat...but the official definition is 'an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period.'  A pastiche can be respectful or can descend to parody."  There are a lot of authors who influenced Wilson and some of them are lovingly covered in these stories, including H. P. Lovecraft, Mary W. Shelley, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, Dashiell Hammett, and Arthur Conan  Doyle.  And, The Upwell, a horror novel, Book One of The Hidden.  (Pre-ordered; due to be published next week.)   There was a problem with the cremation of Pam Sirman's husband's cremation.  His body would not burn.  "Pam is one of three lives that will be drawn together by the apocalypse of the Upwelling.  The other two are Chan and Danni, but their worlds are already in chaos.  A few weeks ago, a fierce storm accompanied by an upwelling from the Atlantic abyssal plain tore into Atlantic City.  When it receded, the city and its 25,000 inhabitants were gone without a trace.  Chan and Danni remember being in the city on that day, but the ten hours in which the Upwelling occurred have been wiped from their memories."

Hammacher Schlemmer:  Last week Jack needed a routine blood test, so I went along with Christina and Jack because one of the few simple joys in my life is embarrassing Jack.  in the waiting room -- lo! and behold -- was a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog.. I had not seen one in ages.  Indeed, I forgot they even existed.  But exist they do, still pushing the "best" *their word), the "unique" (their word), and the "unexpected" (their word) in totally unnecessary (my word), overpriced items for more than 175 years.  What a revelation!  Everything you never needed at prices you will never pay -- all laid out in 56 pages! Naturally, I had to point a number of super cool items to Jack in my loudest voice.  To wit:
  • The Giant Inflatable Bumper Ball.  A 51" inflatable rubber sphere in which you can stick a kid --age 6 or older, and weighing up to 143 pounds -- inside and roll him or her down a hill.  (How exactly did they get at that 143 pound limit, one wonders.  What if somebody is retaining a little bit of water that day?)  What fun!.  Watch out for cars, trees, and cement walls at the bottom of the hill.  For only $99.95
  • The Cicada Blocking Canopy.  What it is is mosquito netting, but cicadas are due to take over the world this year so why not use them as a marketing ploy.  Blocks flying insect like cicadas while providing safe and odorless protection from mosquitoes and other pests.  It'll fit over umbrellas 7' high and 11" diameter.  You think that won't give you much room inside, but wait!  It comes with a bottom PCV ring that can be filled with water or sand so you can enlarge the interior.  Somewhat.  All yours for just $49.95.
  • The 100' Illuminated Backyard Zip Line.  Perfect if you have a backyard with two strong trees just 100 feet apart.   This one has an integrated seat with 30 LEDs for nighttime rides.  (What is an "integrated seat" you ask?  Don't ask.  Just don't.)  Includes mounting hardware, back-up safety cable, and detailed instructions.   One part of the detailed instruction is be sure that eon end of the zip line is higher than the other so you can actually zip.  Supports up to 200 pounds.  A steal at $249.95.  
  • The 50 Gallon Collapsible Rain Barrel.  It folds.  Just in case you want to collapse your rain.  Only $89.95.
  • The Patriotic Lightshow Bunting.  56' in length.  Illuminates a porch or backyard with red, white, and blue lightshows, providing eight different lightshows, including flashing, fading, solid colors, and drive your neighbor crazy.  Comprised of 242 LEDs  rated for 100,000 hours.  You can even show your support for the January 6th insurrection by hanging it up side down.  This bit of patriotism will only cost you $59.95.
  • The 7' Sprinklesaurus.  Just what it says.  Be the first to get your homeowner's association mad.  Just $99.95.  For the same price you can get as a unicorn, but I don't think that will be as much fun.  And rather than huffing and puffing until you trun lue and pass out, there's a Quick Fill Electric Air Pump for only $29.95.
  • The Breathable Insect Repelling Shirt.  I'm really not sure how this works but it's made of nontoxic permathrim (no idea what that is).  I'm sure you can repel insects by printing things on the shirt like, "Hey, bugs!  You have no friends and your mother dresses you funny!"  whether for men or women, the shirt is only $49.95.  The men's is available in Navy or Heather gray; the women's in Slate Blue or Raspberry.
  • The Illuminated Ear Wax Cleaner.  Something nobody wants.  It has an integrated 3mp 1980 x 1980 camera that can be hooked up to a smartphone or tablet so you can see the earwax as you clean your ears.  (Dear God in Heaven, why?)  It comes with eight different silicon tips so I guess you can invite seven of your besties over for a party.  Just 79.95.
  • The Best Nose Hair Trimmer.  Needs one AA battery (not included).  Jack will be turning twelve in a week or so, so I'm trying to convince him that he needs this because once puberty hits, the nose hairs start growing prodigiously.  (Of course they don't, but what does he know?)  I haven't fully convinced him of the need for this time but I'm working on it.  Only $29.95.
  • The Hot Tub Boat.  It's a boat AND it's a hot tub!  How cool is that?  This one was featured on the cover of the catalog.  How can you live without this?  Especially for the low price of $125,000.00.
  • The Six Minute Laser Hair Regrowth Therapy Cap.  Is you masculinity (or femininity) threatens by thinning hair?  Fret not!  "This is the baseball cap that rejuvenates hair by stimulating follicles with laser light technology.  It uses the same Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMT) that has long been demonstrated  to be an effective treatment for hereditary hair loss."  It has 82 medical-grade lasers that zap your scalp.  One size fits most.  A steal at $799.95.  For really difficult cases, you can get it with 272 medical-grade lasers for $2,400.00.
There are so many great things in this catalog.  There's a string you can attach to a door for you cat to bat at ($39.95).  There's a musical plush five foot long caterpillar that plays "The Alphabet Song" or "Twinkle Twinkle" (%59.95).  There's 10X hands free binoculars that strap around your head, but you have to use you hands to adjust them or take them off or else you will be bumping into things ($69.95).  And there's a torture device posture correcting neuroband shirt that makes you stand up straight whether you want to or not ($99.95).

So many thing you can loudly read off to your grandchild while in public.

Is this a great country, or what?

R.I.P., Kinkster:

Dialing:  What would happen if one of today's whippersnappers got caught in a time loop and was transferred back to 1927?  For one thing, their phones would not work and they would go into severe withdrawal.  But fear not, young whippersnapper.  You CAN learn to use a dial telephone!

Just follow these simple instructions from Ma Bell.  (If said young whippersnapper was thrust back to a time before 1927, they'd have to do it the old fashioned:  Getting hold of Bessie, the local operator, and asking her to put you through to Mrs. Richardson (or whoever), knowing full well that /Bessie will be listening in your call for any juicy gossip.  But in 1927, dial phones came into being.  Like magic.  And as you can see, they were so simple to use...

Francois-Jean Lefebvre de la Barre:  Hell has no fury like religious intolerance in 1766 France.   Just ask Francois-Jean de la Barre.  Oh wait.  You can't.  That's because the twenty-year-old was tortured and beheaded, his body then burned on a pyre with a copy of Voltaire's Dictionnaire philosophique nailed to his torso.  His crime? reputedly not saluting a Catholic religious precession.  It happened on this day 254 years ago in Abbeville, Somme, Picardy, France. 

Catholicism was the state religion in France.  In July of the previous year, a wooden crucifix on a bridge in Abbeville was vandalized -- an act that caused shock and anger among the townspeople..  The vandals went unknown despite pleas of the Bishop of Amiens for persons with any knowledge of the act to come forward to the local authorities, on pain of excommunication.  No one came forward, but a local judge who had previously had arguments with la Barre, a rowdy young nobleman with the title of Chevalier (but he was also an orphan and from outside Abbeville), gathered evidence that seemed to implicate la Barre and several other young men -- not realizing that one of the accused would be the judge's own son.   La Barre's group supposedly had done other heresies, including defecating on another crucifix, singing impious songs, and spitting on religious images.

It came out that la Barre and two others had not removed their hats wen a Corpus Christi procession went by.. This was the icing on the cake and supposedly the main reason charges were brought.  Most of la Barre's group (the sons of two former mayors and the son of the judge) managed to flee the area; la Barre did not.   A search of la Barre's bedroom revealed a number of pornographic prohibited books, as well as a copy of the Voltaire tome, which provided an excuse to blame Voltaire's work on the young men's misbehavior.  (One sign of rampant intolerance through the ages is to blame books; any point in my comparing this with today's Christian Nationalist environment would be gratuitous).

La Barre was tried by a secular court and found guilty, a foregone conclusion considering the influence of the Church.  There may have been some feeble attempts to sentence him to life in prison, but non-cooler heads prevailed and he was executed.

The sentencing minced no words:  La Barre was "convicted of having taught to sing and sung impious, execrable and blasphemous songs against God; and having profaned the sign of the cross in making blessings accompanied by foul words which modesty does not permit repeating: of having knowingly refused the signs of respect to the Holy Sacrament carried in precession by the priory of Saint-Pierre; of having shown these signs of adoration to foul and abominable books that he had in his room; of having profaned the mystery of the consecration of wine, having mocked it, in pronouncing the impure terms mentioned in the trial record over a glass of wine which he held in his hand and then drunken the wine; of having finally proposed to Petignat, who was serving mass with him, to bless the cruets while pronouncing the impure words mentioned in the trial record.

"In reparation of which we condemn him to make honorable amend, in smock, head bare, and a rope around his neck, holding in his hands a burning candle of two pounds before the principal door of the royal church...of Saint-Wulfram, where he will be taken in a tumbrel by the executioner who will attach before and behind him a sign on which will be written, in large letters impious one; and there, being on his knees, will confess his crimes...this done, will have the tongue cut out and then will be taken in the said tumbrel to the public marketplace of this city to have his head cut off on a scaffold; his body and his head will then be thrown on a pyre to be destroyed, burnt, reduced to ashes and these thrown to the wind.  We order that before the execution of said Lefebvre de la Barre the ordinary and the extraordinary question [that is, torture] will be applied to have from his mouth the truth of several facts of the trial and revelation about his accomplices...We order that the Philosophical thrown by the executioner on the same pyre as the body of the said Lefebvre de la Barre."

These guys did not fool around.

Today, Francois-Jean Lefebvre de la Barre is honored as a symbol of Catholic religious intolerance.  There is a statue to la Barre at the summit of the Butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city of Paris. 

Despite torture, la Barre did not name any accomplices.

Something to Remember:  "If you don't think every day is a good day, just try missing one."  Cavett Robert

Birthdays:  Birthday people today include my sister Linda; I miss her laughter and her kindness every day.

Also, Liu Ji (courtesy name Liu Bowen, 1311-1375, Chinese military strategist whose prophecies have led him to be known as the "Divine Chinese Nostradamus"); Peter Street (1553-1609, British carpenter and builder, who may have built the Globe Theatre -- we do know he built the Fortune Playhouse); Joseph Hall (1574-1656, British bishop and moralist, known as "England's Senaca"); Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1645-1716, revered German polymath who invented calculus and who made major contributions to physics and technology, and led to advances in probability theory, biology, medicine, geology, psychology, linguistics, and computer science); Acharya Bhikshu (1726-1803, Jain saint, the founder of the Svetambara Terapanth sect of Jainism); Charles Gordon Greene (1804-1886. American journalist who founded the Boston Post in 1831; the Post, which ceased publication in 1956, was one of the major publications of its time; in 1839, the first printed appearance of the phrase "OK" appeared in the the newspaper; many older New Englanders can give you the history of the "Boston Post Cane"); "George Sand" (pen name of French novelist Amantine Lucille Aurore Dupi9n de Franceiul, 1804-1876. one of the most popular writers of her time in Europe; she was a notable writer of the European Romantic era [some 70novels]; she was also notable for her romances with novelist Jules Sandeau, Russian prince Norbert Przanowski, Prosper Merimee, Alfred de Musset, Charles Didier, and Frederick Chopin, among others); Thomas Green Clemson (1807-1888, founder of Clemson University); Ygnacio Ramon de Jesus del Valle (1808-1880, Californio ranchero who owned much of Santa Clarita Valley and briefly served as mayor of Los Angeles); Florence Earle Coates (1850-1927, popular American poet and women's rights advocate; her poem "Poetry" reads, "One spot of green, watered by hidden streams,/Makes summer in the desert where it gleams;/And mortals, gazing on thy heavenly face,/Forget the woes of earth, and share thy dreams!");  De Lancey W. Gill (1859-1940, American painter and photographer; some of his paintings are here:; some of his photographs are here:; William Grant Stairs (1863-1892, Canadian-American explorer and adventurer who took part in two of the most controversial expeditions in the notorious "Scramble for Africa"; William Strunk, Jr. (1869-1946, author The Elements of Style [1918], later revised by E. B. White as Strunk & White's The Elements of Style [1959]; Joseph "Yellow Kid" Weill (1875-1976, noted con man, reputed to have bilked over $8 million in his career); James M. Cain (1892-1977, author of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and many other novels); Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993, musician and Christian evangelist; he wrote "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" and "Peace in the Valley"); Charlkes Laughton (1899-1982, British American actor, known for Mutiny on the Bounty, Ruggles of Red Gap, Jamaica Inn, The Canterville Ghost, and Witness for the Prosecution'; he also directed The Night of the Hunter.

Also, Irna Phillips (1901-1973, American scriptwriter who created The Guiding Light and As the World Turns); William Wyler (1902-1981, German-born American film director who won Oscars for Mrs. Miniver, The Best Years of Our Lives, and Ben-Hur; he also directed Dodsworth, Wuthering Heights, The Little Foxes, Detective Story, Roman Holiday, and Friendly Persuasion, among other classic films); Estee Lauder (1908-2004, cosmetics lady); David Brower (1912-2000, environmentalist and founder of the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, Friends of the Earth, and Earth Island Institute, and who served as the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club); Willie Dixon (1915-1992, American bluesman; here's "I Just Want to Make Love To You":; Cletus Elwood "Boots" Poffenberger (1916-1999, American baseball pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Brooklyn Dodgers; his off-field antics caused him problems with team management; the Christopher Lloyd character in the television series Tremors was named for him; Olivia de Havilland (1916-2020, British and American film star, older sister of Joan Fontaine; her first of five Oscar nominations was for portraying Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind); Iosif Shklovsky (1916-1985; Soviet astronomer and astrophysicist; his 1962 book on extraterrestrial life was revised, expanded, and co-authored by Carl Sagan in 1966 as Intelligent Life in the Universe); Ralph Young (1918-2008, one half of the singing duo Sandler and Young; here they are on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969:; Toshijuki (Harold) Sakata (1920-1982, American Olympic weightlifter, professional wrestle, and actor; of course you recognize him -- he's Oddjob from Goldfinger); Michalina Wislocka (1921=2005. Polish gynecologist and sexologist; her 1978 book Sztuka kolchania [A Practical Guide to Marital Bliss] was the first guide to sexual life in a communist country); Toshi Seeger (1922-2013, American filmmaker, activist, and wife of Pete, co-founder of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and of the Clearwater Festival; the Hudson River is a hell of a lot cleaner now thanks to their efforts); "Scotty" Bowers (1023-2019, American sex trafficker and pimp, active from 1948 to 1980 in procuring prostitutes for Hollywood industry insiders; he famously refused to be embarrassed by sex; Raymond Burr once said, "Scotty just likes to make people happy."); Florence Stanley (1924-2003, who played /Abe Vigoda's wife on Barney Miller and Fish); Farley Granger (1925-2011, American actor, perhaps best known for Alfred Hitchcock's Rope); Art McNally (1925-2023, American football executive and referee who became the first NFL game official to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame); Carl Hahn (1926-2023, German business man and head of the Volkswagon Group from 1982 to 1993, during which he increased production from two million units to 3.5 million); Nobel Prize winner Robert Fogel (1926-2013, an American economic historian and scientist who espoused cliometrics -- the use of quantitative economic methods in history); Gerald Edelman (1929-2014, who won a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in discovering the structure of antibody molecules, which has led to the discovery of cell adhesion molecules and advances in adaptive immunity); Leslie Caron (b. 1931, French and American actress who shined brightly in Daddy Long Legs, Gigi, and Father Goose);l Jamie Farr (b. 1934, Corporal Klinger); Jean Marsh (b. 1934, British actress in Upstairs, Downstairs and presenter of public television's International Animation Festival; she has appeared several times on Doctor Who);  Sydney Pollack (1934-2008, film director of Out of Africa, They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, and Tootsie); James Cotton (1935-2017, American blues harmonica player; here he is with "Cotton Crop Blues" from 1954:; Wally Amos (b. 1936, who made some "Famous" cookies (sometimes they would serve them to Christina after she donated blood, which made her happy); Karen Black (1939-2013, American actress who appeared in some 200 films, including Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, and Burnt Offerings); Alfred G. Gilman (1941=2021, another Nobel Prize laureate, this time in Physiology for "discovery of G-proteins and the role of these proteins in signal transduction in cells"); Twyla Tharp (b. 1941, dancer and choreographer who founded Twyla Tharp Dance, which merged with the American Ballet Theatre in 1988; she has won more awards than you can shake a stick at); Genevieve Bujold (b. 1942, Canadian actress known for Anne of a Thousand Days, The Trojan Women, Swashbuckler, Coma, Murder by Decree, and Deadringers; she had originally been sign to play Captain Janeway in Star Trek:  Voyager, but dropped out, leaving the role to Kate Mulgrew; actress Taina Elg once confused my daughter Christina with Genevieve Bujold, but since Christina was a teenager at the time, she did not realize what a compliment that was); Andrae Crouch (1942-2015, "the father of American gospel music"; here's one of this signature songs: ); Debbie Harry (b. 1945, lead singer of Blondie; here's "Heart of Glass":; David Duke (b. 1950, white supremacist, former grand wizard of the  Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and waste of protoplasm); Trevor Eve (b. 1951, English actor, eponymous star of the detective show Shoestring and former star of Waking the Dead); Anne Feeney (1951-2021, folk musician, activist, and lawyer; her anthem for civil disobedience was "Have You Been to Jail for Justice?":; Dan Ackroyd (b. 1952, he may not have been ready for prime time, but he was one wild and crazy guy); not only was he a Blues Brother, but he introduced us to the Bass-o-matic); Keith Whitley (1954-1989, country music singer who sadly died of alcoholism at age 34; here he is singing "Don't Close Your Eyes":; Li Keqiang (1955-2023, premiere of china from 2013-2023; he was in charge of the government's Covid-19 pandemic response);
Lisa Scottoline (b. 55, American author of legal thrillers, author of 30 bestselling novels, with 30 million copies in prints; she has won two Edgar awards and her books have been translated into 30 languages); Alan Ruck (b. 1956, American actor, known for Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Spin City, and Succession; he played USS Enterprise captain Jonathan Harriman in Star Trek Generations); Carl Lewis (b. 1961, track and field athlete who won ten Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver medal, and ten World Championship medals, including eight gold); Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-1997, the "People's Princess"); Andre Braugher (1962-2023, American actor whose television roles included Frank Pembleton on Homicide:  Life on the Streets and Raymond holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine; a man of great talent, warmth, and kindness); Pamela Anderson (b. 1967, Playboy made and Baywatch and Home Improvement actress, and animal rights activist; a sex tape she had made with then husband Tommy Lee had been stolen and aired in the internet, resulting in a controversial law suit); Missy Elliot (b. 1971, four-time Grammy winning hip-hop and rap artist; sadly, i would not know any of her songs if they hit me over the head); Liv Tyler (b. 1977, daughter of musician Steven Tyler and adopted daughter of Todd Rundgren; actress who played the elf  Arwen Undomiel in the Lord of the Rings trilogy; in 2003 she became a spokesperson for Givenchy perfume and cosmetics; a couple of years later, thy named a rose for her); Savvy (for Savannah) Shields (b. 1995, Miss America 2017; her talent was a jazz dance performance to "They just Keep Moving the Line"); and Storm Reid (b. 2003, American actress who played Meg Murray in 2018's A Wrinkle in Time and has been featured in films Don't Let Go,  Invisible Man, Missing, and The Nun II; this year she won a Black Reel Award and a Primetime Emmy Award for a role in The Last of Us.

Ha!:   I had to throw away my toaster because it keep burning the bread.  Turns out I'm black 
toast intolerant.

Florida Man:
  • Florida Man Dennis Winn, 72, of Lake County has been arrested for shooting a Walmart delivery drone with a 9mm pistol.  Further details are unavailable, but haven't most of us been tempted to do something similar?  Yet it had to be a Florida Man who took action.
  • Florida Man Blake Robinson, 27, got a bit more than he was asking for.  Robinson allegedly tried to steal the truck of a 66-year-old Brevard County man.  The victim saw what has happening and went inside his home to phone the authorities.  Sadly for Robinson, the victim could not find his phone so he went back outside to confront Robinson.  That's when Robinson supposed punched the unnamed victim in the head, throwing him to the ground, where he began kicking the victim in the head.  Evidently this irritated the victim, who got up and began to retaliate, resulting in Robinson "getting his butt whipped," according to police.  Rnbinson received little sympathy from Broward County sheriff Wayne Ivey.  "You play stupid games, you get stupid prizes," Ivey said.  The prizes Robinson got were "a chauffeured ride to a local medical facility to check his injuries before arriving at his less than luxurious accommodations at 'Ivey's Iron Bar Lodge'!  At the Lodge he was given a freshly washed two-piece ensemble to get comfortable in before being shown to his sleeping area inj our open floor plan."
  • Florida Woman Melissa Barnes, 22, of Hillsborough County, has been accused of putting bleach in her 13-month-old daughter's baby bottle inside the shed they lived in together.  A "concerned relative" founf that the pair were living in a "cold, cluttered, and unsanitary" shed without electricity so she took the baby in her care.  When she tried to give the baby a bottle, the baby refused it.  The woman then discovered the bottle contained bleach.  Barnes claimed she was using the bleach to clean the bottle.  On May 28, the sheriff's office obtained arrest warrants for Barnes on charges of child abuse and child neglect.  the child's relative was promptly given custody of the young child.
  •  This past Thursday, an unnamed Florida Man was killed while trimming palm trees in Hudson while using an elevated bucket.  Caution was not used and the victim evidently was electrocuted while coming into contact with nearby power lines.  "I heard all these electrical explosions, like a transformer" according to a neighbor.  "look across the street and see these big balls of sparks come down."  According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the incident caused power in the area to go down temporarily.
  • Florida Man Salem Seleiman, 28, was arrested on a warrant on May 10, becoming the sixth man arrested in a brutal on-camera attack on a Jewish man in Times Square nearly three years before.  The attack occurred during clashes between Jewish and Palestinian protesters in Midtown.  Seleiman was allegedly part of a group who hurled 'antisemitic slurs like 'dirty Jew,' 'filthy Jew,' and 'f-k Israel' at victim Joseph Borgen, who was wearing a yarmulke.  According to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, as good Samaritans tried to intervene in the beating, Seleiman pretended to offer to help Borgan -- only to then unload a kick in his face as he lay on the ground.  Five other attackers have already been convicted and sentenced in their role in the case.
  • Florida Man Javontee Brice, 28, of Bradenton, murdered his mother and two other women he knew in separate locations before he was sot and killed in a gunfight with deputies hundreds of miles away.  Authorities said he killed the women Monday night in Manatee County before heading to Georgia to confront an ex-girlfriend when he was stopped by deputies from Hamilton County.  "Hr came pout of the car shooting at deputies," according to Manatee Country Sheriff Rick Wells.  In addition to Brice's mother, the victims were Brice's cousin and a female partner of another of Brice's ex-girlfriends.

Good News:
  • Just check out this cutie.
  • Over the lips, through the gums...50 years later, here it comes.
  • In a world first, a brain implant controls epilepsy.
  • discovery hints at compassion in early humans.
  • the largest ever pardon of US cannibis convictions.
  • New tech revives "unusable" organs.
  • $4 thrift store vase was made ny ancient Mayans.
  • Device can rewire your brain to ignore tinnitus.

  • Today's Poem:
Black Friday Poetry Sale

Here's an offer
on Romantic poetry
that won't cost you
the Earth:

if you want your

-- (found on the internet)


 The chuck Wagon Gang.

Friday, June 28, 2024


In the first half of the 20-th century America had a sort of love affair with gangsters, beginning with Prohibition, then moving to the Depression and beyond.  For many people some were romantic while others were merely cold-blooded killers.  They were popularized by both the press and J. 
Edgar Hoover's FBI's Most Wanted List.  While effective in some areas of his job, Hoover was a grandstanding publicity hound who puffed up his organization to levels beyond reality.  Many of the FBI's accomplishments were admirable while others were illusionary.  Too often, local officials would clear a case only to have the FBI come in a grab all the glory.  One thing the Hoover did, beyond all doubt, was to put the names of the most prominent gangsters before the American people.  And this was the era in which the buzz words were "Crime Doesn't Pay."

Crime Doesn't Pay was the theme of this comic book. Murder Incorporated was published by Fox and ran for 15 issues, from December 31, 1947 to December 10, 1949, featuring fictional biographies of well-known gangsters -- always with the message that Crime Doesn't Pay.  (A second series apparently ran in 1950.)

Issue #12 covers three gangsters:  the well-known Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd, and the lesser-known Johnny "Socks" Lazia, the supreme Kansas City, Missouri crime boss during the Prohibition Era.  Lazia had been supported by that city's powerful Pendergast political machine until he orchestrated the notorious June 1944 Union Station massacre, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including four law officers.  It's interesting to note that one of the shooters Lazia brought in for that massacre was Pretty Boy Floyd, although that wasn't mentioned in the issue's earlier story about Floyd, nor was it mentioned in the very brief mention of the massacre in the Lazia story -- and of course, the Pendergasts were not mentioned at all.  Go figure.   I'm not sure why the comic book gave Lazia the nickname "Socks" -- Lazia was best known as "Brother John."

Anyway, enjoy this issue.

Thursday, June 27, 2024


A Necessary End by Sarah Pinborough & F. Paul Wilson  (2013)

This may be how the world ends.  No, that's not right.  This may how our world -- humanity's world -- ends.

A plague, spreading rapidly, unceasingly, killing everyone in its path.  ASs the Black death was carried by fleas, this new horror is carried by flies. Genetically modified flies.

It's suspected that the flies were brought about by a research project in the Congo that used gamma rays to sterilize the male tsetse fly.  Something went wrong.  A genetic freak accident.  Perhaps one fly's DNA was altered by the rays.  Perhaps that fly managed to avoid being eaten by a predator, or swatted by an irritated human, or whatever.  Perhaps that fly managed to infect one person, and when that person died, perhaps the fly laid her eggs on the corpse.  Perhaps that started the deadly snowball rolling.  Perhaps.  What is known is that, six months after the research facility closed down, the first cases were reported -- just five miles away.  So that could have been what happened.

The director of the research facility was Rajiv Singh, an Oxford entomologist who lived with his wife and young daughter in a Georgian rowhouse in Camden.  An angry, frightened mob gathered in front of Singh's home, pelting it with rocks, as police tried in vain to keep them at bay.  Molotov cocktails were thrown, and when Singh and his family tried to leave, they were forced back into the burning home by the mob.  When Singh and his wife opened a side window to drop let their little girl escape the flames, one man who had just lost his own wife and daughter to the plague earlier that day, grabbed the girl and threw her back into the burning inferno -- if his daughter could not live, why should the daughter of man responsible live?

Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America -- anywhere flies could live, humanity died.

And the people began to question.  What this all an accident, or could this be Divine intervention?  God had sent a flood and the plagues of Egypt before.  Is this an example of His wrath?  Some of those dying appear to have visions of God welcoming them, including the wife and daughter of Henry, the tortured man who threw the Singh girl back into the inferno.  And Abby, a hospital volunteer with lupus and the wife of reporter Nigel, has become convinced that the plague is God's will, an opinion she calmly accepts as fact.  (Last names for the major characters in the book are meaningless, which gives them a universality.)

A fly bites you and you die.  After you die -- unless your body is burned -- the maggots appear.  And so it goes.  And with it goes humankind.  Or does it? Is there anyway to stop this biological nightmare?  Or will the clock keep ticking?

An uneasy read from Sarah Pinboropugh (prolific British author of horror, fantasy, and thrillers for both adults and young adults) and F. Paul  Wilson (author of The Secret History of the World, The Adversary Cycle, the Repairman Jack Stories, and the LaNague Chronicles).

Wednesday, June 26, 2024


X Minus One was half-hour NBC Radio program that dramatized stories first published in Galaxy Science Fiction.  "A Wind Is Rising" was published in the July 1957 issue of Galaxy and was written by Robert Sheckley and published under his pseudonym "Finn  O'Donovan."  (That issue already had a story by Sheckley under his own name:  "The Deaths of Ben Baxter.")  

Carella 1 is a wind-swept planet (with winds well over 100 mph), but the Earthman feel safely ensconced in their artificial habitats.  The Earthmen need their artificial shelter to survive, but somehow the odd-looking native Carellans seem to get along fine their native environment.  A storm that had peaked at 180 mph was classified as a moderate gale by the natives.  As the winds abated slightly from that storm the Carellans prepare for their great yearly holiday, the Festival of Summer.  The Earthmen should have realized that, after summer comes other, darker seasons...

This program was adapted by George Lefferts and was directed by George Voutsas.  Featured actors were Les Damon, Burt Cowlan, and William Griffis.  Fred Collins was the announcer.


Tuesday, June 25, 2024


 "I Love Maple Walnut" by Theodore Sturgeon  (first published in Harper's Magazine, May 1974; reprinted in The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Volume XIII:  Case and the Dreamer, 2010)

Ejler Edgar Aylmer invented a computerized butler which he has named Cupid because no one really understands how it works.  The mythical Cupid had a way of giving people what they deserved when they asked for their heart's desire -- remember Cupid is blind and can shoot arrows anywhere.  Ejler Edgar's Cupid can analyze all available data, and based on the request, will deliver the result through a chute, whether the request is for more mustard for a sandwich, or something else.

The bane of Ejler Edgar's existence was Potiphar Engwall Dendium, a rather disgusting slob who would invade Ejler Edgar's who would invade the scientist's basement laboratory at lunchtimes.  Potiphar Ungwall would have his lunch at a diner called Greasy's and order his dessert -- always something gooey and rather sloppy -- to go, taking the dessert with him to Ejler Edgar's, and always leaving the empty containers for Ejler Edgar to clean up.  The scientist once made the mistake of telling Potiphar Ungwall that Cupid could deliver whatever he (Potiphar Ungwall) desired by analyzing all available data.  The scientist's visitor did not believe that and issued a challenge :  "You know what I want Cupid, and I want it at home in bed waiting for me."  (Hmm.  It sounds as if Potiphar Ungwall's heart's desire may be something a little kinky.)

The following day, Potipher Ungwall barged into the laboratory in a highly incensed stated of anger.  In his bed was an ice cream cone and not the nubile young thing he was expecting.  But Cupid had analyzed things with its own idea of what love (which can come in many forms) might be and drew from the available data something that Potiphar Ungwall had told the scientist days earlier...

A brief, minor, and amusing fable from a writer known for exploring the many facets of the human heart.  And, as with all good fables, there's more here than what just appears on the surface.

Monday, June 24, 2024


 Based on one of Vincent Starrett's Jimmie Lavender story "Recipe for Murder" (Redbook Magazine, November 1934), The Grand Hotel Murder dropped the Lavender character' who knows why?  (Lavender, a Chicago gentleman detective, was the popular character in forty-nine stories by Starrett.  Surely he could have carried a film as himself.)  The film also made a number other changes to the basic plot.

Roger Blackwood (no longer Jimmie Lavender) is a young crime novelist (not a critic) in California (nope, not Chicago), specifically, San Francisco's Hotel Mardena.  A body is found in room 940, a man who died by poisoning.  Blackwood (Edmund Lowe) joins forces (sort of) with hotel detective Andy McCabe (Victor McLaughlin) to solve the murder while each tries to upstage the other.  McCabe is also aided by his assistant, Feets (John Wray).  Since this is a hotel, there are a lot of suspects; since this is a B mystery programmer, there's a bit if snappy dialogue.  Things come to a smashing and very abrupt end during a New Year's Eve party.

There's some decent plotting stuck here amongst a whole lot of vagueness.  The film is a pretty good time waster for those who like that sort of thing.   They really should have stuck closer to Starrett's original story.

Directed by Eugene Forde, with a script by Arthur Kober.  Also featuring Rosemary Ames, Mary Carlisle, Henry O'Neill, C. Henry Gordon, William Janney, and Charles C. Wilson.  Look closely and you'll see Lynn Bari, perhaps best known the WWII pin-up model dubbed the "Woo-Woo Girl," in an uncredited role as a receptionist.


Sunday, June 23, 2024


Openers:  Martha begat Joan, and Joan begat Ariadne.  Ariadne lived and died at home on Pluto, but her daughter, Emma, took the long trip out to a distant planet of an alien sun.

Emma begat Leah, and Leah begat Carla, who was the first to make her bridal voyage thruigh sub-space, a long journey faster than the speed of light itself.

Six women in direct descent -- some brave, some beautiful, some brilliant; smug or simple, willful or compliant, all different, all daughters of Earth, though half of them never set foot on the Old Planet.

-- "Daughters of Earth" by Judith Merril  (first published in the anonymously edited anthology The Petrified Planet, 1952; reprinted in New Worlds and SF Impulse, April 1967, and in Merril's collections Daughters of Earth:  Three Novels (1968), The Best of Judith Merril (1976), and Homecalling and Other Stories:  The Complete Solo Short SF of Judith Merril)

Merril was a highly influential science fiction writer, editor and critic.  She was active in the science fiction field long before she burst into prominence with her classic first story in the genre, "That Only a Mother" (Astounding Science fiction, June 1948); previous to that, she had published a number of stories in the detective, western, and sports pulps.

The Petrified Planet was the second of two "Twayne Triplets" from Twayne Publishing, a shared world anthology (the first) working from the concept of the planet Uller, as envisioned in a preface by John D. Clark, Ph.D. and (uncredited) Fletcher Pratt.  (Pratt is often credited as the editor of this volume by Curry and by The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, among others, although Virginia Kidd credits John Ciardi with the editorship.  The book contains three novellas by Pratt, H. Beam Piper, and Merril.)

The story concerns a line of women who contributed to humanity's reach to the stars and beyond.  The main portion centers on Emma, who tells of the colonization Uller and of the sacrifices made there; Emma is relating her history for her granddaughter Carla, who is about to embark on an even more dangerous quest.  It's easy to call this a feminist story, but at its heart it is a humanist story, one about mankind's drive to seek new frontiers.  "Daughters of Earth" is a personal, powerful, and  emotional story which also maintains a hard science fiction edge.  

Highly recommended.


  • Sherman Alexie, Ten Little Indians. Short story collection.  "Sherman Alexie offers nine poignant and emotionally resonant stories about Native Americans who find themselves at personal and cultural crossroads.  In 'The Life and Times of Estelle Walks Above', an Intellectual feminist Spokane Indian woman saves the lives of dozens of white women all around her, to the bewilderment of her only child.  In 'Do You Know Where I Am?' two college sweethearts rescue a lost cat -- a simple act that has profound moral consequences for the rest of their lives together.  In 'What You Pawn I Will Redeem', a homeless Indian man must raise $1,000 in twenty-four hours to buy back the fancy dance outfit stolen from his grandmother fifty years earlier."
  • Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters.  Fantasy novel.  "Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies.  but this one is unique even by Detroit's standards:  half boy, half deer. somehow fused together.  As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at the seams?  If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you begin a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online.  If you're the desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story.  If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe -- and find the monster who is possessed by a dream of violently remaking the world." 
  • Ben Bova, The Star Conquerors.  Juvenile, one of the Winston "Adventures in SF" series.  Bova's first science fiction novel; signed copies without dust jacket are going for $1400(!).  "Explore New Worlds...and Resistance Is Futile...all found their home here first with Star Watch Captain Geoffrey Knowland in what some say is a virtual blueprint for Star Trek."  I'm not sure who the "some" are who are saying this, but maybe they have their wires crossed.  Nonetheless, it's an interesting book.
  • Andrea Camilleri, The Terracotta Dog.  An Inspector Salvo Montalbano mystery.  "The Terracotta Dog opens with a mysterious tete-a-tete with a Mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and some dying words that lead Inspector Montalban to a secret grotto in a mountain cave where to young lovers, dead fifty years and still embracing, are watched over by a life-size terracotta dog.  Montalbano's passion to solve this old crime takes him, heedless of personal danger, on a journey through the island's past and into a family's dark heart amid the horrors of World War II."
  • Mike Carey, Dead Men's Boots.  The third in the Felix Castor series of paranormal mysteries.  "A brutal murder in King's Cross bears all the hallmarks of a long-dead American serial killer, and it takes more good sense than Castor possesses not to get involved.  He's also fighting a legal battle over the body -- if not the soul -- of his possessed friend, Rafi, and can't hake the feeling that his three problems might be related.  With the help of the succubus Juliet and the paranoid zombie data-fence Nicky Heath, Castor just might have a chance of fitting the pieces together before someone drops him down a lift shaft or rips his throat out.  Or not..."  
  • A. Bertram Chandler, John Grimes:  Rim Runner.  Omnibus of four science fiction novels.  "Once a spacer, always a spacer.  and no dirtside job -- even one as nominally glamorous as Commodore of the Rim Worlds Naval Reserve -- can keep a  bred-in-the-bone spaceman like John Grimes out of the void for long.  Older and wiser, he's nonetheless nostalgic for his days in the Survey service, so when the stars call, he gladly leaves the paperwork behind and heads off for adventure.  Now practical, hard-headed Grimes is not the sort to believe in ghosts,  but he's willing to give psychics a chance when shapely Sonya Verrill, a commander in the Federation Survey Service, proposes a ghost-hunting expedition in the sector around Kinsolving's Planet.  Out where the fabric of space and time wears thin, ships have encountered Rim Ghosts -- apparitions of craft and crewmates from alternate universes.  When Grimes organizes a seance to make contact, their ship is yanked Into the Alternate Universe, and their only hope of getting home again may lie in a lost relic -- a sleeper ship from the first age of space exploration.  After their wild ghost chase, Grimes and Sonya embark on a wholly different adventure:  marriage.  But running their own lttle shipping company takes a back seat to danger when a distress call leads the pair to an alien ship from an alternate universe -- a ship carrying Contraband from Outer Space -- mutant rats who evolved to rule their universe...and threaten to break through to ours.  In The Rim Gods, Grimes is drawn into four perilous adventures, when a ship full of religious fanatics uses a psionic to summon God, when a rogue Rim Worlder tries to sell advanced weaponry to the robber barons of Tangaroa, when trouble in the form of a predatory starfish threatens to ruin the economy of Mallise, and when an impossible planet appears out of nowhere -- a world where dragons, fairies, and sleeping beauties are real.  Another visit to Kinsolver's Planet, where the boundaries between reality and surreality are almost non-existent, find The Commodore at Sea.  For he is whisked into a continuum in which fictional characters exist, and he is surprised to meet Sherlock Holmes, Lady Chatterley, Tarzan and Jane, and...A. Bertrtam Chandler?"  The Grimes books are pure fun, and I doubt if anyone was better at transplanting the sea story into outer space.
  • Anne Cleeves, Dead Water. A Jimmy Perez mystery.  "The body of journalist Jerry Markham is found, hidden in a boat at the marine.  Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez has been out of the loop, but his interest in this new case is stirred and he decides to help the inquiry.  Markham -- originally a Shetlander who then made a name for himself in London -- had moved away from the island years before.  In his wake, he left a scandal involving a young girl, Evie Watt, who is now engaged to a seaman.  He had few friends n Shetland, so why was he back?  Willow and Jimmy are led to Sullom Voe, the heart of Shetland's North Sea oil and gas industry.  It soon emerges from their investigation that Markham was chasing a story in his final da\ys.  One that must have been significant enough to warrant his death"  I caught this one on my Shetland re-watch a few months ago.
  • Eugene Cunningham, Triggernometry:  A Gallery of Gunfighters, with Technical Notes, too, on Leather Slapping as a Fine Art, gathered from many a Loose Holstered Expert over the years  Non-fiction collection of minibiographies.  "In this now classic volume, Eugene Cunningham collects -- in his 'gallery' -- biographies of nearly a score of master gunfighters, including such notables as John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Dallas Stroudenmire, Sam Bass, Wild Bill Hickok, Butch Cassidy, and Tom Horn.  Himself a westerner with a feel of the pistol and rifle, Cunningham knew firsthand several of the Texas gunfighters featured in his book, the product of more than thirty-five years of research, interviews, and writing.  Cunningham examines the evidence and breaks down the myths surrounding the exploits of Wild Bill Hickok, for example, preferring to find instead the living, breathing human behind the legend.  His final chapter, 'Triggernometry,' remains a fascinating discussion of the gunfighters' expertise with the fast draw and the 'road agent's spin,' pistol fanning, the 'border shift.' 'rolling,' and 'pinwheeling,' and the use of various holsters and harnesses."  First published in 1934, Triggernometry has been cited as one of the best Western Nonfiction Books by the Western Writers of America.
  • P. N. Elrod, editor, My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding.  Fantasy anthology with nine stories.  "An 'ordinary' wedding can get crazy enough, so can you imagine what happens when otherworldly creatures are involved? Nine of the hottest authors of paranormal fiction answer that question in this delightful collection of supernatural wedding stories.  What's the plan when rival clans of werewolves and vampires meet under the same roof?  How can a couple in the throes of love overcome traps set by feuding relatives...who are experts in voodoo?  Will you have have a good marriage if your high-class wedding is held on a cursed ship?  How do you deal with a wedding singer who's just a little too good at impersonating Elvis?  Shapeshifters, wizards, and magic.  Oh my!"  Authors include L. A. Banks, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, P. N. Elrod, Esther M. Friesner, Charlaine Harris, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.
  • Michel Fessier, Fully Dressed and in His Right Mind.  Crime/fantasy novel.  "Johnny Price first meets the little old man at the scene of a streetside murder.  The little old man confesses that it was he who shot the man, and Johnny figures he's either drunk or crazy.  He stops in at a bar, and there is the little old man again.  Johnny starts running into him everywhere.  He can't shake him.  when Johnny meets the artist Dorgan and invites him to move in with him, Dorgan is intrigued by the little old man as well, and wants to paint him.  Johnny's life becomes further complicated when on night he sees a naked young lady swimming in a lake in the park.  He tries to talk to her, but she dives back and swims away.  But Johnny persists, and eventually discovers that he name is Trelia, and that she swims naked in the lake most every night.  Dorgan wants to paint her too.  But the little old man has plans for Johnny, and neither Dorgan nor Trelia can help him.  Because once the little old man casts his green eyes on Jonny, he might as well give up hope!"  Also included in this edition are thee short stories from Manhunt from 1953.  Fessier was a screenwriter and film producer.  Of this book, historian Bruce Catton wrote, "The effect is as surprising and stimulating as a smack in the hoot-nanny with an ice-cold wash cloth" -- whatever that means.
  • John C. Hocking, Conan:  City of the Dead.  Collection of two Conan novels.  "In Conan and the Emerald Lotus, the seeds of a deadly addictive plant grant sorcerers immense powers, but turn its users into inhuman killers.  In the exclusive long-awaited sequel, Conan and the living Plague, a Shemite wizard seeks to create a serum to use as a lethal weapon.  Instead he unleashes a hideous monster on the city of Dulcine.  Hired to loot the city of its treasures, Conan and his fellows in the mercenary troop find themselves trapped in the depths of the city's keep.  To escape, they must defeat the creature, its plague-wracked undead followers, then face Lovecraftian horrors beyond all imagination."  When it comes to recommending action-packed adventure, no one knows their beans better than James Reasoner, who featured this book on his blog this past Friday. and who recommended this very highly.  If Reasoner recommends it, I'm there!
  • Raymond F. Jones, Planet of Light.  Juvenile, one of the Winston "Adventures in Science Fiction" series; as sequel to Son of the Stars.  "The story follows Rod Barron and his family as they are taken to a planet in the Great Galaxy of Andromeda to participate in a meeting of an intergalactic analogue of the United Nations.  They face the question if Earth is ready to join an intergalactic society."  Great stuff when I was twelve years old and probably still great.
  • Gerald Kersh, Clock Without Hands, The Horrible Dummy and Other Stories, Karmesin:  The World's Greatest Criminal -- or the Most Outrageous Liar, and Neither Dog Nor Man:  Short Stories.  George the Tempter posted a review of this author last Wednesday, reminding me of all the great Kersh short stories I have yet to read.  Previously almost forgotten, Kersh is having a revival thanks to publishers such as Valancourt Books, Faber & Faber, and London Books, so I was able to easily get e-book versions of these four collections.  Harlan Ellison cited Kersh as his favorite author, " a talent so immerse and compelling," and Anthony Boucher wrote that Kersh was "incapable of writing a dull sentence."  Thank you, George for spurring me on and tempting me...
  • Tom King, Vision, Vol. 2:  Little Better Than a Beast.  Graphic novel based on Marvel characters.  "Once upon a time, a robot and a witch fell in love.  And then some pretty bad things happened.  but the story of Vision and Scarlet Witch was just the start.  Because now, Vision has built a new life for himself -- a new family.  Yet while every family has its share of skeletons in the closet, for the Visions those skeletons are real.  And now the family's facade is crumbling.  the Avengers knew the truth.  That Vision's wife has killed.  That he lied to protect her.  And that lie will follow lie, death will pile upon death.  the Avengers know they need to act.  Tragedy is coming and it will send the Android Avenger into a devastating confrontation with Earth's Mightiest Heroes.  Nobody is safe."
  • Ursula Le Guin, Gifts.  Young adult science fiction novel.  "Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the families of the Uplands possess gifts.  Wondrous gifts:  the ability -- with a glance, a gesture, a word -- to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land.  Fearsome gifts:  They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. the Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another.  Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts.  One, a girl, refuses yo bring animals to their deaths in the hunt.  The other, a boy, wears a blindfold least his eyes and his anger kill...Le Guin writes of the cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world's darkness, gifts of light."
  • Frances and Richard Lockridge, Curtain for a Jester.  A Mr. and Mrs. North mystery.  "M r. Byron Wilmot was well-known for his practical jokes.  so no one was surprised when his part on April Fool's Day was filled with jokes and tricks.  But they were surprised when Pam North found Wilmot dead the next morning.  When the malicious intent behind many of Wilmot's jokes was discovered, the list of suspects grew.  Anyone who had been humiliated by him could have wished him harm.  That was understandable,  But Pam believed the red-headed dummy used in a trick at the party was a clue -- or perhaps it was just a red herring.  Once again, the Norths are involved in a mystery where everything is not what it appears to be.  Will Pam's uncanny ability to observe the most subtle clues lead them to the answer in time or, will the killer have the last laugh?"  Showing my age, but I cannot read this series without picturing Barbara Britton as Pam.
  • Ellen MacGregor & Dora Pantell, Miss Pickerell and the Last World, Miss Pickerell and the Supertanker, Miss Pickerell Meets Mr. H.U.M., Miss Pickerell on the Moon, Miss Pickerell Tackles the Energy Crisis, Miss Pickerell Takes the Bull By the Horns, and Miss Pickerell to the Earthquake Rescue.  Juveniles about everybody's favorite no-nonsense, get-it-done spinster heroine and her cow.  You may have to have been of a certain age to remember this character, but remember her I do, and fondly.  This was one part of my youth that was not misspent.  A dash of humor and a dash of science education.  MacGregor died after publishing the fourth book in the series; Pantell later took over the series using MacGregor's notes.
  • Rob MacGregor, Spawn.  Tie-in to the movie based upon the comic book character.  "Once Al Simmons worked for the government as a sold and efficient assassin.   but he wanted something his top-secret agency could never allow:  He wanted out.  So the people he trusted with his life led him into an ambush -- and his life ended in a rush of terrible flames.  Now he has come back -- to the street where he once lived -- to the woman he once the traitors who destroyed his body but not his soul.  Al Simmons, though, isn't Al Simmons, anymore.  With a new body forged in the flames of Hell, he's an unstoppable weapon for chaos and destruction.  Reborn, relentless, without a master, he must fight the dark objective for which he was resurrected in order to prevent the approaching Armageddon.  He is...SPAWN."
  • Barry N. Malzberg, Collecting Myself: The Uncollected Stories of Barry N. Malzberg.  Thirty-five previously uncollected stories.  Malzberg may not be everyone's taste but his talent shines through with every word.  From The Enclopedia of Science Fiction:  "Malzberg's writing is unparalled in its intensity  and in its apocalyptic sensibility...he is a maser of balck humor, and is one of the few writer to have used sf's vocabulary of ideas extensively as apparatus in psychological landscapes, dramatizing relationships between the human mind and its social environment in an sf theatre of the absurd."  Also included is a bibliography of books by Malzberg (many under pseudonyms) through 2013; since this book was published this year, it's a shame the bibliography has not been updated.
  • Alan E, Nourse, Trouble on Titan.  Juvenile, part of the Winston "Adventures in Science Fiction" series.  "When Tuck Benedict and David Torm faced each other on the bleak and frigid face of titan, Saturn's sixth moon, they represented, literally [literally, really? -- JH}, the opposite ends of the universe.  For in the twenty-second Century, Tuck represented the rich and easy civilization of an Earth that had grown luxurious by utilizing solar energy through a catalytic mineral produced in Titan's grim mines.  David Torm, whose ancestors had been exiled to Titan centuries before, stood for the hardened Titan colonists who huddled beneath their airtight dome to mine the metal responsible for Earth's prosperity.  Meeting on the eve of an open revolt by the Titan miners against Earth's authority, these two teenagers found grounds for friendship that their bnickering fathers could never see." 
  • Ian Rankin, Beggars Banquest.   Collection of 22 crime stories, including eight featuring Inspector Rebus.  One story, "Death Is not the End," had been expanded into the 1999 novel Dead Souls.
  • James Sallis, Ghost of a Flea.  A Lew Griffin mystery.  "A man stands in a darkened room in New Orleans. looking out through a window, seeing the past.  There's a body on the bed behind him:  wind pecks at the window, traffic sounds drift aimlessly ion.  the man thinks that if he doesn't speak, doesn't think about what happened, somehow things will be all right again.  He thinks about his own life, about the other's, about how the two of them came to be here.  Lew Griffin is alone...or almost so.  His relationship with Deborah is falling apart; his son, David, has disappeared again, leaving a note that sounds final.  His friend Dan Walsh, who is leaving the police department, is shot interrupting a robbery.  And Lew is directionless.  He hasn't written anything in years:  he no longer teaches...there's nothing to fill his days.  Even the attempt to discover the source of threatening letters to a friend leaves him feeling roofless and lost..."
  • John Saul, Creature.  Horror novel.  "A powerful high-tech company.  A postcard-pretty company town.  Families.  Children.  Sunshine.  Happiness.  A high-school football team that never-ever loses.  And something else.  Something horrible...  Now there is a new family in town.  a shy nature-loving teenager.  A new hometown.  A new set of bullies.  Maybe the team's sports clinic can help him.  Rebuild him.  They won't hurt him again.  They won't dare."
  • Robert Silverberg, Jungle Street and Running with the Barons.  Collection of two crime erotica novels from the 60s originally published as by "Don Elliot."  Jungle Street (originally published as Sex Jungle):  "Danny Flaherty's family moves to a new neighborhood, so he's out of the Shining Sinner, and looking to get into the Golden Dragons.  Getting into a new gang mans an initiation. and Danny's ready for whatever they've got in mind.  Mike Reilly, the Prez of the Dragons, first asks Danny to infiltrate a neighboring gang.  Easy.  Then he's asked to participate in a robbery.  Not so easy.  He has to hit the owner on the head with a bottle, and now the guy's in a coma.  Could be worse.  But the final initiation is the tricky one -- Danny's got to make it with three Dragon debs in front of the whole gang.   And that's how he meets Lisa, Reilly's girl,.  It's all been kicks up to now.  but Danny has big plans and nobody's going to stop him from taking what he wants."  Running with the Barons (originally published as The Passion Barons):  "Marty Capuano might be short but he was a big man  in his Lower East side gang.  Now his family is living in Jenkinsville, Ohio, and he feels like he's been banished to Nowheresville.  So he goes looking for a new gang and finds the Dragons.  Marty is the best there is with a  blade,. and he makes pretty short work  of the Dragon's prez.  Now he's sitting on top again, with the former prez's deb, Jojo, and the fear and respect of the whole gang.  But this is only the beginning .  there's a snooty chick named Jill who snubbed him when he first hit town, and she's got to be brought down a notch ...and there's the bartender who wouldn't serve him a beer...Marty still has a lot of folks to get even with, and he's only just started."  Silverberg wrote hundreds of these paperback originals back in the day and they all read well for what they were.  This edition has an eight-page bibliography of Silverberg's books through 2014.
  • Keith Thomson, Pirates of Pensacola.  A swash-buckling parody with "rum, eye patches, peg legs, and a wisecracking parrot in need of a twelve-step program."  How could I resist?
  • James Thurber, Thurber on Crime.  A collection of stories, articles, drawings, and reflections, edited by Robert Lopresti.  An assemblage of wonderful, witty, and wise bits about crime, murder, humanity, men, women, dogs, and other things by a humorist who -- in my humble opinion -- ranks second only to P. G. Wodehouse.
  • [Uncredited], Why Do we Say It?  The  Stories Behind the Words, Expressions and Cliches We Use.  Just what the title says.  Alphabetically, it runs from "A-1" to "Zest," with stops along the wat for such words as "flibbetigibbet" and "pants," and such phrases as "pull one's leg" and "son-of-a-gun."  Lest we think we are getting of easily, there are also ten quizzes on various words and phrases.
  • Donald E. Westlake,  Baby, Would I Lie?  Comic crime novel, a follow-up to Westlake's Trust Me on This.  "Branson, Missouri, is the home of Country Music, USA.  Its main drag is lined with theaters housing such luminaries as Roy Clark, Loretta Lynn, and Merle Haggard -- but you'd better get there early because the late show's at eight.  Branson is one big long traffic jam of R.V.'s, station wagons, pickup trucks, NRA decals, tour buses, and blue-haired grand mothers.  Now Branson just got a little more crowded.  Because the murder trial of country and western star Ray Jones is about to begin, and the media has come loaded for bear.  The press presence ranges from the Weekly Galaxy, the most unethical newsrag in the universe, to New York City's Trend:  The Magazine of the Way We Live This Instant.  in the middle of the melee stands Ray Jones himself, an inscrutable good ol' boy who croons like an angel but just may be as guilty as sin-- of the rape and murder of a 31-year-old theater cashier.  Sara Joslyn, of Trend, isn't sure about Ray.  The sardonic Jack Ingersoll, her editor and lover,  is sure of this much:  this time he's going to do an expose that will nail the Weekly Galaxy to the wall.  A phalanx of reporters and editors from the Galaxy are breaking every rule, and a few laws, to get the inside story on Ray Jones's trial.  Meanwhile, the IRS is there, too.  They want all of Ray Jones's money, no matter what the jury decides.  Set to the beat of America's down-home music, as raucous as a smoke-filled honky-tonk, as funny as grown men in snakeskin boots, Baby, Would I Lie? is a murder mystery, a courtroom thriller, a caper novel, and a classic Westlake gem."

Froggy Bottom:  From 1929, here's Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy:

Here Comes Summer:  Now that summer's here, it's time to do some serious thinking about cookouts.  There are few things better about summer than cookouts and/or barbeques.  Here are some thirty ideas that will take you a bit beyond the usual burgers and brats -- hamburgers with zing, barbequed baked beans, cool and creamy macaroni salad, grilled pineapple and grilled watermelon, rosemary roasted potatoes, deviled egg potato salad, cracker barrel grilled chicken tenders, corn salad, Mexican street corn, green beans with smoky bacon, beer can chicken, Coca Cola pulled pork, Mexican hot dogs, Caprese salad, copycat KFC cole slaw, Buffalo chicken wings, broccoli salad, crispy smashed potato salad, fall of the bone ribs, shrimp salad, three bean salad, arugula salad, Alton Brown guacamole, oven roasted asparagus, fried apples, Chick-Fil-A lemonade, fruit salad (shades of The Wiggles!), caramel apple crisp, and chocolate covered bananas.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Boys Beware:  June is Pride Month, set aside to celebrate and commemorate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride -- although as with Black History Month, Women's History Month, and similar celebrations, gay pride should be celebrated year long.  The things that set some apart are the things that collectively make us all human, and that's a good thing, isn't it?

Civil rights, women's rights, reproductive rights, labor rights, privacy rights, religious rights, and so on have come a long way, even though sometimes it feels like we are taking a step backwards.  To illustrate this, here's an "educational" video put out by the Inglewood Police Department and the Inglewood Unified School District in the 1950s warning about the danger of homosexuals because they're all out to get you.  It's a trippy piece of propaganda and fear mongering.  (One should always, however, keep in mind "stranger danger" -- but, geez, Louise, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.)

We should be thankful that we have moved beyond knee-jerk prejudice and hatred, believing that all hsmosexuals are out there grooming kids.  Well, most of us.  In most of the country.  I hope.

Explanation Needed:  A farmer was sitting on his porch getting drunk.  A neighbor walked by and asked him, "It's such a beautiful day.  Why are you sitting out here getting hammered?

The farmer looked at him an said, "There are some things you just can't explain."

The neighbor asked, "What do you mean?"  the farmer explained.  "I was in the barn milking the cow, and when the bucket was almost full, she kicked it over with her left leg.   Well. I gor so mad that I got some rope and tied her left leg to a rafter."

The neighbor was a little bit confused.  "Well?"

The farmer continued, "There are just some things you can't explain.   I got the bucket and began milking again, when, dang it, she kicked the bucker over with her right leg.  So I got some more rope and tied her right leg to a rafter."

"That solved the problem, didn't it?"

The farmer shook his head and took another gulp of his drink.  "There are just things you just can't explain.  I positioned the bucket under the cow and began milking once again.  Then that cursed cow flicked its tail and knocked over the bucket!  So I tied her tail to a rafter.  But I had run out of rope and had to use my belt.

"Without my belt, my pants fell down.  Just then my wife came in."

The farmer shook his head in sorrow.  "There are some things you just can't explain."

Musical History:  From 1963, a young, clean-cut Frank Zappa teaches Steve Allen how to play the bicycle:

The Battle of Bannockburn:  Today marks the 710th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

From Wikipedia:  "The Battler of Bannockburn was fought on 23-24 June 1314, between the army of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, and  the army of King Edward II of England, during the First war of Scottish Independence.  It was a decisive victory for Robert Bruce and formed a major turning point in the war, which ended 14 years later with the de jure restoration of Scottish independence under the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northhampton.  For this reason, the Battle of Bannockburn is widely considered a landmark moment in Scottish history."

On the first day of the battle, the English knight Sir Henry de Bohun spied the Scottish king, who was on a small horse and carried only a battle ax.  De Buhun lowered his lance and charged.  Rather than flee, Bruce rode at the Englishman.  At the last few seconds, Bruce shifted his mount to the side, stood up in his stirrups, and delivered a great blow to de Bohun, smashing through the knight's helmet ins into his brain.  After the fact Bruce expressed sorrow that he had broken the shaft of his favorite axe.

"After Robert Bruce killed Henry de Bohun on the first day of battle, the English withdrew for the day.  That night, Sir Alexander Seton, a Scottish noble serving in Edward's army, defected to the Scottish side and informed King Robert of the English camp's low morale, telling him they could win.  Robert Bruce decided to launch a full-scale attack on the English forces the next day and to use his schiltrons [a compact body of troops forming a shield wall, or phalanx -- JH] as offensive units, as he had trained them.  This was a strategy his predecessor William Wallace [remember Braveheart? - JH] had not employed.  The English army was defeated in a pitched battle which resulted in the deaths of several prominent British commanders, including the Earl of Gloucester and Sir Robert Clifford, and the capture of many others, including the Earl of Hereford."

My mother-in-law claimed to be a descendant of Robert the Bruce, but I doubt if there is a person of Scots ancestry who has not made a similar claim.  (She also claimed to be related to Jesse James and to have a bit of American Indian blood.  Eileen also never met a conspiracy theory she did not like, so go figure.)

Happy Birthday, Phil Harris:  Harris was born Wonga Philip Harris in 1904.  (The name Wonga supposedly came from the Cherokee, and meant "fast messenger."  The orchestra leader, actor, and singer was known for his work on The Jack Benny Show and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show (in which he starred with his wife).  He voiced a number of well-known characters for Disney, included Baloo the Bear in The Jungle Book, Little John in Robin Hood, and Thomas O'Malley in The Aristocats.  In 1950 he had a number one hit with the novelty song "The Thing."  By all accounts, he was a pretty decent guy.

Here's his signature song:

Florida Man:
  • One-time Florida dentist and "troubled" Tampa area resident Richard G. Kantwell, 60, has been charged with three counts of interstate transmission of threat to injure.  This is actually the tip of the Kantwell iceberg.  FBI Special Agents evidently considered Kantwell's threats dangerous enough to interview him, ask him to stop, then took action when he continued.  Kantwell issued "approximately 100 threats and various other disturbing messages" to about 42 victims from August 2019 to July 2020 -- and those were the ones for which the FBI says it has evidence.  Kantwell allegedly bragged about owning weapons, "enjoying the violence," and that he "loved creating widows and orphans."  Three of his expletive-laden messages could land him in federal rpison for up to fifteen years.  Kantwell had been licensed to practice dentistry until this past February; previously he had defied an agreement to stop practicing as a dentist in 2017 and the Florida Board of Dentistry had reprimanded and fined him.
  • Florida Man Joseph Leedy, 40, recently drove across the Marin County Jail parking lot, up the entrance ramp, and into the jail itself, where he poured motor oil on the floor and tossed out rubber snakes.  Just a typical day in Florida.
  • In a case that happened just one street over from where I live, Florida Man and plastic surgeon Benjamin Jacon Brown, 41, has been charged with second degree felony homicide and culpable negligence in the 2023 death of his wife Hilary Brown.   Brown was performing surgery on his wife's for an abdominal scar revision, bilateral arm liposuction, lip injections, and ear adjustment procedures on November 21 when she went into cardiac arrest.  He reportedly waited for twenty minutes before calling an ambulance, which took her to the hospital where she died a week later, evincing lidocaine toxicity.   Hilary Brown had prepared her own tumescent solution which Brown reported that she had taken around 12 pm; he did not report that an hour earlier she had ingested a "handful" of multicolored pills.  An emergency restriction of license was issued following her death, citing also "questionable circumstances that happened in the moths leading up to her death."   Two previous patients had reported that Brown performed BBL surgery on them without permission and that there was a lack of sterilization in the rooms during surgery.
  • If you want to paint something in Florida, you'd better do a good job of it.  Florida Man Daniel Peirre, 47, allegedly whacked his nephew on the head with a hammer while at a job site in Loxahatchee.  Reportedly the uncle complained that he no longer wanted to work with his nephew because he did not do a good job.  Pierre struck his nephew and left the young man unconscious while he drove away, according to police.  The nephew suffered life-threatening injuries, including a skull fracture and a brain tear.
  • And if you are going to be a roommate in Florida, you'd better clean up after yourself.  71-year-old Florida Woman Patricia Whitehead shot and killed her roommate because he allegedly did not pick up after himself.

Good News:
  • I'm not sure this is good news or not, but perfectly preserved cherries have been found in George Washington's Mount Vernon cellar.  As far as I can tell, no one has dared taste the.
  • Woman raises fund to help 90-year-old veteran still working in the heat to retire
  • Heiress appoints 50 people to give away her  multi-million euro fortune
  • Tired of noise pollution?  these students invented a leaf blower silencer attachment
  • Lung cancer drug brings unprecedented results
  • Lost donkey now "living his best life" with elk herd five years later

Today's Poem:

Robert Bruce's address to his army

Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,
Scots, wham Bruce has often led;
Welcome to your gory bed,
Or to victorie.

Now's the day, and now's the hour;
See the front o' battle lower;
See approach proud Edward's power --
Chains and Slaverie!

Wha will be a traitor knave?
Wha can fill a coward's grave?
Wha sae base as be a slave?
Let him turn and flee!

Wha for Scotland's king and law
Freedom's sword will strongly draw,
Freeman stand., or freemen fa'?
Let him follow me!

By oppression's woes and pains!
By your sons in servile chains!
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they shall be free!

Lay the proud usurpers low!
Tyrants fall in every foe!
Liberty's in every blow!
Let us do, or die!

-- Robert Burns