Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, August 18, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: BILL THE BAR FLY

Tex Ritter.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zANxbbuo-zg

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE BARON IN FRANCE

The Baron in France by John Creasey writing as "Anthony Morton" (1953)


British writer John Creasey (1908-1973) was one of the most prolific and popular writers of the mid-twentieth century.  He produced over 600 books under 28 pseudonyms, sometimes publishing as many as 17 novels in a year.

Creasey toiled seven years trying to break into publishing while gathering a large number of rejection slips.  He published his first book in 1930 and his first mystery novel in 1932.  Creasey was not by any means a great writer, but he was a competent and fast writer.*  Some of his books were very good.  I am partial to his Commander Gideon novels (as "J. J. Marric") and I also like his Inspector (later Commander) Roger West series.  Many of his other series are certainly readable; I've read about forty of his novels and enjoyed them all, and have about twenty more lurking around the house somewhere.

Creasey wrote 47 books (published from 1937 to 1979) about "The Baron,"** a sophisticated, Robin Hood-like jewel thief who reformed and under his true name, John Mannering, now owns and operates Quinn's in London -- an exclusive antiques store that that does much trading in precious gems.  Of course no one knows that Mannering was The Baron, although several -- including police officers -- suspect it.  As The Baron, Mannering is a master of disguise and a daring athlete with a large knowledge of the criminal arts.  A number of Creasey's earlier books were slightly revised and updated for a US audience.

The Baron in France starts with a daring burglary in a London flat.  The thief gets the fabulous Gramercy jewels but is interrupted by the owner, jewelry dealer Bernard Dale.  The thief shoots and kills Dale and attempted to kill Dale's 12-year-old daughter.  Circumstances point to Dale's junior partner Tony Bennett, who is arrested, tried, and sentenced to hang.  Mannering is convinced Dale is innocent but is stymied in trying to find the real murderer until ten days before Bennett's execution date when Dale's ex-wife shows up at Mannering's door.

Stella, the ex-wife, is remarried and living in France.  She overheard a conversation between her brother-in-law and his father, indicating that the father now had possession of the stolen jewels.  Stella's father-in-law is the wealthy Comte de Chalon, a monomaniac collector of stolen art and gems.  With time running out for Tony Bennett, Mannering travels to France to see if the Comte actually has the jewels and, if so, to discover where he had got them; the person who sold the jewels to the Comte was the one most likely to be the real murderer.

Ah, but the best-laid plans...There's another murder and Mannering is framed as the killer.  Mannering's wife is kidnapped.  An attempt is made on Mannering's life.  Worse, Mannering gets nowhere in solving the mystery.

The Baron in France is a fast read, a mere 190 pages.  The pace does not let up.  On the negative side, there are a lot of awkward sentences and a few nonsensical sentences.  The plot is ridiculous and Mannering, despite his daring and his athleticism, galumphs idiotically through the story.  Some characters are well-drawn while others are mere pasteboard.  Worse yet, the killer exposed at the end was basically revealed in the book's jacket copy. Final grade has to be either a C or a C+.

Nonetheless, I'll continue to read Creasey's minor works such as his The Baron series.  It's a guilty pleasure.


* There's an apocryphal story about Creasey, who knew next to nothing about the American West, starting one of his western novels with a "coyote soaring overhead."  No one has been able to find such a passage among Creasey's 30 westerns, so it either never happened or a sharp-eyed editor caught the flub in manuscript.  Either way, it didn't stop Creasey from claiming the tale was true..

** In the US editions, the first eight titles gave Mannering the title "Blue Mask" instead of The Baron.  By the ninth volume this seemed sort of silly.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: LITTLE TOWN FLIRT

Let's travel back to 1962 with Dell Shannon and an echo chamber.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQLQp8drUf4

THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER: THE MAN THE INSECTS HATED

The Mysterious Traveler was an anthology series on the Mutual Network from December 5, 1943 to September 16, 1953.  A mixture of mystery, suspense, science fiction and horror, the show was narrated by the titular character, played by Maurice Tarplin.  Created and written by Robert Arthur and David Kogan, the show produced almost 400 episodes.  Sadly, only about 75 episodes survive.  The show did spawn a magazine and a one-shot comic book, as well as two similar shows, The Sealed Book and The Strange Dr. Weird.

With the lonely whistle of a train in the background, The Mysterious Traveler would begin his weekly introduction:  "This is The Mysterious Traveler, inviting you to join me on another journey into the strange and terrifying.  I hope you will enjoy the trip, that it will thrill you a little and chill you a little.  So settle back, get a good grip on your nerves and be comfortable -- if you can!"

The episode linked below first aired on October 7, 1944.  In a crumbling mansion deep in a Louisiana bayou, Professor John Hanson has perfect Formula 397 -- a powerful insecticide.  Unfortunately for the professor, the insects are not happy about his success.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ir6Rw82dYN0

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: GOTTA GET A HOLD OF MYSELF

From 1966, some people who called themselves The Zombies.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtyROCysfN0

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

What's green and sits in the corner crying?

The Incredible Sulk.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESSAMYN!

It doesn't seem that long ago when she was a smiling, laughing, curly-haired, blonde toddler.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTL-fwRsEdc


It's been a while since she has turned around.  She now has two amazing daughters who are themselves about to turn around.

Time passes by too quickly.  What does not pass and what does not diminish is our love for her.  We are proud of who she is.  No matter how often she turns around, she will always be our sweet, loving Jessamyn.

Enjoy your day, my darling, as we have enjoyed your continuing presence in our lives.

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TURN ME LOOSE

Teen idol Fabian practices his lip syncing chops.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qacdlN7UqWs

OVERLOOKED TELEVISION: CHECKMATE

A decade before The Streets of San Francisco, television viewers got a different look at those streets through the eyes Don Corey and Jed Sills (Anthony George and Doug McClure), who operated Checkmate, Inc., a detective agency which specialized in stopping crimes before they happened.  They were aided by consultant  (and former Oxford professor) Dr. Carl Hyatt (Sebastian Cabot).  Checkmate, Inc. had its offices in Corey's elegant apartment.

The show was created by mystery and suspense writer Eric Ambler.  Produced by Jamco, Jack Benny's production company, Checkmate aired on CBS from September 17, 1960 to June 20, 1962 -- a total of 90 episodes.  The show was a critical success but during its second season it was slotted against NBC's popular The Perry Como Show.  As Checkmate's rating fell so did its chances for a third season; it was replaced by the fish-out-of-water series The Beverly Hillbillies.  (Interestingly enough, Donna Douglas -- Ellie May in The Beverly Hillbillies -- appeared in four 1961 episodes of Checkmate as Barbara Simmons (A girlfriend?  An assistant? A secretary?  Who knows?  I haven't seen those episodes and "Waiting for Jocko" has only a four-person cast.)

"Waiting for Jocko" aired on October 21, 1961.  It was directed by don taylor from a script by Juarez Roberts.  A young John Williams wrote the theme music for the series.  Guest star Jeff Chandler plays a "constitutional psychopathic inferior" (Dr. Hyatt's words) who was denied parole based on Hyatt's professional testimony.  When he is finally released, Chandler's character holds Hyatt captive, planning to blow him up on his (Hyatt's) birthday at the exact hour and minute of Hyatt's birth.  (We did mention "psychopathic," didn't we?)

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3d7HGEl07Xc

Monday, August 14, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: FISH HEADS

Last night at Jessamyn's birthday party, she and Christina started singing this song for some reason I can't explain.  My children are weird.

Here's Barnes and Barnes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn73Wtem0No

INCOMING


  • Ace Atkins, Dark End of the Street.  A Nick Travers mystery, the third in the series.   "Former pro football player-turned-college professor Nick Travers came of age in a smoky New Orleans bar -- an he owes a monumental debt to its owners, Jo Jo and Loretta, who took him under their wings.  Now Loretta wants Nick to locate her missing brother, the legendary singer Clyde James, who vanished in the sixties after his wife and a band member were murdered.  The Dixie mafia, a blonde bombshell grifter, and an Elvis-worshipping hitman are suddenly interested in the soul man as well, and Nick can't help wondering why.  The answer lies somewhere in Memphis and the Mississippi Delta, where casino money, dirty politics, and old secrets bubble up to the surface of the New South."  I love that this paperback has a quote from Robert B. Parker:  "Ace Atkins can really write."  Atkins, of course has continued the Spenser series after Parker's death.
  • Jemiah Jefferson, Fiend.  Vampire novel.  "In nineteenth-century Italy, young Orfeo Ricari teeters on the brink of adulthood.  His new tutor instructs him in literature and poetry during the day and guides him in the world of sensual pleasure at night.  But a journey to Paris will teach young Orfeo much more.  For in Paris he will become a vampire.  Told in his own words. this is the story of the life, death, rebirth and education of a vampire.  No one else could properly describe the shadowy existence, the endless hunger, the heightened senses or the amazing power of the undead.  No one else could recount the passing of the years and the slow realization of what it mean to grasp immortality, to live on innocent blood, to be a...FIEND"  We are into Anne Rice territory here, folks.  And the Oxford comma be damned!
  • "J. R. Roberts" (Robert Randisi), The Gunsmith #65:  Showdown in Rio Malo.  "Clint Adams' old pal Joe Bags has gone and got himself elected sheriff of Rio Malo, a town trying to turn respectable.  But when the killing starts, Joe learns that there's more to being sheriff than pinning on a tin star.  Suddenly the whole town's turned yellow.  And the only ones with any guts are three misfits who sign on as deputies -- one of them's still wet behind the ears, another old enough to be his granddad, and the third;s just too damn pretty for her own good...But the Gunsmith figures that any help is better than none, as Rio Malo gets ready to explode into a dusty hell of blood and bullets..."  Randisi's productivity and the quality of his work is amazing.
  • Sam Siciliano, The White Worm.  A "Further Adventure of Sherlock Holmes," the fourth of (now) five by Siciliano.  "A journey to Whitby heralds the start of a new case for SHERLOCK HOLMES and Dr. Henry Vernier.  Their client is in love, but a mysterious letter has warned him of the dangers of the romance.  The object of his affection is said to be under a thousand-year-old druidic curse, doomed to take the form of a giant snake.  Locals speak of a green glow in the woods at night, and a white apparition amongst the trees.  Is there sorcery at work, or is a human hand behind the terrors of Diana's Grove?"  This is part of a series of both new and old adventures of Sherlock Holmes by various authors published by Titan Books.  Siciliano used Bram Stoker's The Lair of the White Worm as a springboard for this book.  (Two of his earlier Sherlock Holmes books were inspired by other books -- one by The Phantom of the Opera, the other by Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.)
  • Gore Vidal writing as "Cameron Kay," Thieves Fall Out.  Crime thriller first published as a Gold Medal original in 1953, a time when the author found himself short of enough cash to keep him in champagne.  To solve this problem, Vidal churned out four mysteries:  three under the "Edgar Box" pseudonym and this one as by "Cameron Kay."  (Cameron Kay was the name of Vidal's great-uncle -- his mother's uncle -- and a former attorney general in Texas.)  Vidal didn't think much of the book and didn't want it republished.  Three years after Vidal's death, his agent gave Hardcase Crime permission to reprint the book.  What was it they said about the best laid plans?  I really don't know if this one is as bad as is claimed, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, if only because one of my favorite books is Vidal's first novel, Williwaw.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

ARTHUR C.CLARKE'S SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD

From 1995, futurist and renowned science fiction writer chooses his own "seven wonders of the world."  Fascinating.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNWL855ibMA

HYMN TIME

Gene Autry.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctEACQX-KS8

Saturday, August 12, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: WOLVERTINE MOUNTAIN

Most people are familiar with Claude King's 1962 hit version of this song.  Less are familiar with this one sung by the man who wrote it, Merle Kilgore.  Kilgore also explains how the song came about.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TehoxDrN9Tw 

TIM HOLT #36 (JUNE-JULY 1953)

Tim Holt, a youthful and athletic movie cowboy, was a good choice to have his own comic book.  Holt at one time had the fastest draw of any movie cowboy; he could draw his revolver in five frames of film, or just over one-sixth of a second.  He appeared in several major movies (The Treasure of Sierra Madre, Stagecoach, The Magnificent Ambersons, Stella Dallas, and My Darling Clemintine) but was more comfortable in B movies.  An expert rider, Holt eventually left the motion picture industry (except for rare instances) to own a rodeo.  He also had a dude ranch, was a home builder, a television host, and a radio executive.

From Boyd Magers' Comic Book Cowboys website:  "Just as Tim Holt's RKO post-war westerns were a cut above the other product of the day, so too were his ME (Magazine enterprises) comic books, every one of them drawn by prolific artist Frank Boole (born 1924) who got better as he went along.  Many stories were penned by Gardner Fox who became a fixture at DC."

Tim Holt #1 (actually numbered A-1 #14) appeared in April 1948.  (The A-1 numbering continued for another two issues; the fourth issue was tagged #4 and regular numbering was used in subsequent issues.)  In issue #20, Tim Holt took on the persona of Red Mask, who soon became more and more popular as a "western quasi-superhero."  As Red Mask began taking over the storylines, Tim's original sidekick Chito faded away.  By issue #42 (June-July 1954) the title of the comic book became Red Mask, which lasted thirteen issues, ending in #54.

In issue #36, Tim has to have a shooting contest with Redmask*.  How can he do that without revealing that the two are the same man?

In "Death Ride of the Iron Horse," Redmask risks his life to save a train from destruction.

And, "when a posse corners Redmask and a dozen bullets rip him apart -- whose is the grim, scarlet figure that comes riding across the plains to avenge 'The Killing of Redmask!"

Also, in "No Law in Little Bend," Marshal Rex Fury is acting oddly and letting lawlessness rule the town.  Turns out that owlhoots have changed his personality using "a special sorta drug, sumpthin' like marijuana.  It's drunk with coffee most times.  Taken in small steady doses, like you've been gettin' it, it makes fer lethargy.  Thuh user doesn't give a hand about what's happenin' about him..."  Now knowing what has been happening, Fury comes back as The Ghost Rider to catch the bad guys.  (This Ghost Rider, although he pretends to be supernatural, is not the later Marvel Comics Ghost Rider, who is.)

Enjoy.


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69398


* In this issue Redmask id one word instead of two.  don't know why.

Friday, August 11, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MAMA DIDN'T RAISE NO FOOLS

Sugar Pie Desanto.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsc8lfpzAUg&list=PL407E816CAD591DE8&index=96

NO FORGOTTEN BOOK TODAY

My reading week has been spent on Stephen King's massive 1100-plus page It, so I did not get around to picking and reading a "forgotten" book.

Rather than let you go away empty-handed, here's a brief poem by Robin Robertson -- "Trumpeter Swan."


https://archive.org/details/audio_poetry_112_2006

Thursday, August 10, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: A LOVE SO BEAUTIFUL

Roy Orbison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrbctEUkfcA

THE ADVENTURES OF THE FALCON: THE CASE OF THE NEIGHBOR'S NIGHTMARE

To understand the convoluted history of the The Falcon, one must go back to Leslie Charteris' famous character The Saint, that daring rogue and adventurer who first appeared on the printed page in 1928.  In 1938, The Saint made the leap to films with Louis Hayward playing the character; one year later Haywood was replaced by George Sanders for the second film.  The series with Sanders proved to be a great success, but the studio was having difficulties with Charteris, who was apparently upset with some of the liberties RKO had taken with the character.  Soon, Charteris and his character parted ways with the studio and RKO set about finding a replacement character for a new "Saint-like" series.  They settled on Gay Stanhope Falcon, the protagonist of a single story, "Gay Falcon," published by Michael Arlen in 1940.  The studio bought the rights to the story and the character and went on their merry way.

Like the Saint, The Falcon was an adventurer who gets caught up in murder.  To play The Falcon, the studio hire George Sanders, the actor who had played The Saint.  Gay Stanhope Falcon's name was changed to Gay Lawrence and -- as far as I can tell -- no reference was ever given as to why the character was nicknamed The Falcon.  (Need I mention that this was back in the days when the name Gay had only heterosexual overtones?)  Charteris, of course, fumed and threatened to sue.  (He also took the time to pan the new series in a "meta" bit in one of his novels.)  The Falcon movie series eventually ran to sixteen films, and when Sanders dropped out of the role his real-life brother Tom Conroy took over as Gay Lawrence's brother Tom Lawrence.

But there was another, earlier, literary Falcon -- Mike Waring, nicknamed "The Falcon," who first saw print in 1936's The Falcon's Prey by "Drexel Drake" (Charles H. Huff).  Waring appeared in two further novels and a short story.  To confused matters, this Falcon appeared in a short series of movies and, later, a short-lived television series starring Charles McGraw.  (One can assume that RKO bought the right's to Arlen's character rather than Drake's character because they did not want another repeat of an author complaining about the treatment of his series character.)

Anyway, when the Blue Network premiered The Falcon on April 10, 1943, it was the Drexel Drake character who was featured.  The similarity between the two Falcons (and with The Saint) was not coincidental; most listeners apparently felt RKO film character and the radio character  were the same guy but with a name change.  (A view that the radio show did nothing to dispel.)  The Adventure of the Falcon ran until November 27, 1954, moving from the Blue Network, to NBC, to Mutual.  Waring was at times an adventurer, a private eye, an insurance investigator, and an Army intelligence officer.  In both films series and in the radio series, The Falcon was basically whoever the writers and producers wanted him to be.  His job description may change but his character -- the wily adventurer with a dash of derring-do and a dab of humor -- does not:  a Saint clone.

"The Case of the Neighbor's Nightmare" was aired on February 4, 1951.  Michael Waring -- played by Les Damon, the fourth actor to take the radio role -- meets up with a man who thinks he's a lady killer and Waring must make sure he doesn't become one.  Brought to you by Kraft Foods.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrPtd_3hvKw

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: GENTLE ON MY MIND

R.I.P. Glen Campbell.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETkzK9pXMio

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

So there were these three women who died in an automobile accident and all three show up at Heaven at the same time, where St. Peter met them at the gate.

"Welcome to Heaven!"  St. Peter said.  "Now, before you enter, understand that we have only one firm rule here in Heaven:  Don't step on the turtles!"

Somewhat surprised at this admonishment, the three women enter Heaven and see turtles everywhere...billions of billions of turtles covering most of the ground!  There were so many turtles that one of the women immediately (and accidentally) stepped on one.

There was a sudden clap of thunder and a flash of lightning and St. Peter reappeared before the three.  In one hand he had a chain and in the other he held the hand of the ugliest man any of the women had ever seen.  He chained the poor offending woman to the ugly man, saying, "Because you stepped on a turtle, you will be chained to this man for eternity!"  Then --  poof -- he vanished, as did the woman and the ugly man.

The remaining two women were stunned.  For an entire day they moved carefully around Heaven, taking care not to step on any turtles.  But, you guessed it, one of them eventually stepped on a turtle.  St. peter immediately appeared with the clap of thunder and flash of lightning, with a chain and a very ugly man.  If the first man was the ugliest they had ever seen, this guy was uglier to the tenth power.  He chained the second woman to the truly ugly man, saying, "Because you stepped on a turtle, you will be chained to his man for eternity!"  Suddenly, the third woman was left alone.

She took a deep breath and vowed never to step on a turtle.  Over the weeks and months she traveled carefully over Heaven, never stepping on a turtle.  Except for the strain of trying not to step on a turtle, she found Heaven to be more delightful than she had imagined.  Finally, after a full year, St. peter appeared before her.  With him was the most gorgeous man she had ever seen; compared to this man Adonis would have been a leper.  St. Peter chained the woman to this absolute hunk of maleness and, without a word, vanished.

The woman was amazed and (truth to be told) very grateful.  "Wow," she said, 'What did I do to deserved this?"

The man said, "Well, I don't know about you, but I stepped on a turtle."

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: LIL' RED RIDING HOOD

Sham the Sham and the Pharaohs.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwNP9HOFvwQ

OVERLOOKED FILM: RIDERS OF THE WHISTLING SKULL (1937)

Murder...

A missing archaeologist...

A lost city...

A priceless treasure...

An Indian cult...

A hint of the supernatural...

The Whistling Skull...

And the Three Mesquiteers!

All this, plus lots of action intermixed with humor, as Stony, Tucson, and Lullaby (Robert Livingston, Ray Corrigan, and Max Terhune) help pretty Betty Marsh (Mary Russell) search for her missing uncle while facing off baddies Rutledge (Roger Williams) and Otah (stuntman extraordinaire Yakima Canutt).

Directed by Mack Wright from a script by Oliver Drake and John Rathmell, Riders of the Whistling Skull is one of the best "Poverty Row" oaters of the 1930s.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6679ck4K10U

Monday, August 7, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MOODY RIVER

Chase Webster with his original version.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VRwVrk1EmU&index=7&list=PLOE6T-_vwZvPVf4ZdV6eNvE_s0bjTOLEY

INCOMING


  • "Philip DeGrave" (William DeAndrea), Keep the Baby, Faith.  Mystery novel.  "Harry Ross is a mild-mannered TV listings editor for a great metropolitan newspaper.  He makes a decent living, and has a terrific apartment, but aside from that, his life is less than super.  Harry is lonely and bored and wants a little adventure in his life, a little romance.  When a childhood friend of his sister's shows up outside his building one night, very rich and extremely pregnant, and asks for help, Harry's wish begins to come true in spades.  Before he knows it, Harry is tangled up in a tussle over the will of a man who is not yet dead, gets involved with a society blonde with a secret past (and a husband), acts as unwilling host to two dramatic but mysteriously inefficient murders, fights for his own life, and falls in love.  Pressed by an unorthodox police lieutenant, dogged by a ruthless killer, hiding things from the newspaper that employs him, and nagged by his mother, Harry sets a trap designed to learn who is -- and who is not -- doing what to whom, and why."  Philip Degrave is one of the cutest pseudonyms since "Sue Demin," and DeAndrea was one heck of a novelist taken much too soon.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

THE INSIDE STORY ON "I, LIBERTINE"

This is the story of a book that didn't exist, then it did.

Long John Nebel was the host of a popular radio talk show host from the mid-1950s until his death in 1978.  The all-night show included as many "way out" topics that could fit into the time space (ufos, witchcraft, conspiracy theories, mind control, voodoo, Fortean phenomena, and so on), as well as interviews with a wide selection of guests, including comedian and flying saucer skeptic Jackie Gleason, SF writers Lester del Rey and Frederik Pohl, and magician James Randi.

Jean Shepherd was a radio and television personality and well-known writer, perhaps best known for the perennial television favorite A Christmas Story.

Ian Ballantine was an influential paperback publisher.  In 1939, he began the distribution of Penguin Books in American.  In 1945, he one of those who began Bantam Books and served as its first president from 1945 to 1952.  He and his wife started Ballantine Books, which became one of the earliest major publishers of original science fiction books.

Theodore Sturgeon was...well, Theodore Sturgeon.  A damned fine writer.

And this is the story of how I, Libertine came to be.

From 1968:


https://archive.org/details/JEANSHEPHERDTHESTORYOFILIBERTINELONGJOHNNEBEL

HYMN TIME

The Boston Children's Choir and The Chicago Children's Choir.  Just lovely.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyyZg6BAnaA&index=10&list=PLJ3X0XM_SmvPutsT59kVxNHE1Y9B8kcR-

Saturday, August 5, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: BIMBO

From 1954, Jim Reeves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZzBESzOAIg

CAT-MAN COMICS #14 (OCTOBER 1942)

The original Cat-Man (as opposed to the Johnny-come-lately DC character) was David Merryweather, an orphan raised by a she-tiger in Burma.  As an adult, he returned to America, donned a costume, became Cat-Man, and enlisted in the army.  The extremely agile Merryweather is disgustingly rich, an expert in unarmed combat, and has super hearing, super sight, super smell, and super healing; he's also a pretty nifty escape artist.  His first two outings (in the last two issues of Crash Comics in 1940) were successful enough to earn him his own comic book, Cat-Man Comics, in 1941.  There, he was joined by his orphaned niece, 11-year-old Katie Conn, who becomes his sidekick Kitten.  Kitten matured rapidly to fill out her costume.

 Cat-Man Comics lasted for 32 issues.  Cat-Man and Kitten languished in comic book limbo for years until they were revived by AC Comics, first, and Dynamite Comics, second.

In issue #14, Cat-Man and a (still pre-pubescent) Kitten are on a passenger plane that is hijacked by Nazis.  Big mistake.

Filling out the issue are:

  • an adventure with the Deacon (a two-fisted, collar-wearing, mighty champion of democracy) and his young sidekick Mickey
  • an adventure of Rag-Man (who wears a suit of rags made from the clothes of evil-doers) and his dialect-talking black assistant Tiny
  • a tale of the Little Leaders (Kitten and Mickey from the above crime-fighting teams) as they battle -- you guessed it!  -- Nazis
  • and speaking of Nazis, Blackout (the head of a secret underground society in Naziland), Takes the battle to the Nazis home turf
  • air ace the Phantom Falcon battles Nazis in the skies over war-torn France
  • air aces also come from the enemy side and Baron von Tug vows revenge after he is defeated and his hand crushed in battle ( it's amputated and replaced with a vulture's claw "with talons like steel"); the newly-christened Vulture's Claw sneaks into America to wreak havoc but doesn't count on FBI agent Craig Williams, a.k.a. The Hood
  • and two "true personal adventures" -- "Rip van Winkle Tried to Kill me!" and "Wolves Nearly Got Me!"
Please note that, despite the cover illustration, Cat-Man, Kitten, and all the various heroes and super-heroes in this issue are fighting Nazis, not the Japanese.  At least in this issue.

Enjoy.

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69381

Friday, August 4, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: ROCK AND ROLL RUBY

Warren Smith.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fru_cYsqFbU

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE PLANT

The Plant, Book One:  Zenith Rising by Stephen King (2000)


The time is 1981.  Zenith is a small, struggling paperback publishing house that publishes books of questionable merit, none of which would ever make it to a bestseller list.  Zenith is about as low as you can go in the publishing field without hitting the purely pornographic, Nazi apologist, or terrorist instruction manual demographic.  Its offices take up one quarter of the fifth floor of a run-down building.  The only employees are the managing editor, four editors (three male and one female) who serve mainly as slush-pile readers, a Stepin Fetchit-talking janitor who also runs the male room, and a part-time receptionist.  Zenith stays barely afloat with a blood and guts action series, a poorly written line of bodice-busters, and a series about various insects feasting on humanity.

Even an organization as low as Zenith is, would-be writers -- almost all of questionable merit -- send in their manuscripts with the naive assurance that their works are truly special and important.  Some of these wanna-bes are certifiable.

One such writer is Carlos Detweiller, who has submitted a screed titled True Tales of Demon Infestations, a "scary and all true" manuscript which includes recipes for potions (which can be edited out if Zenith feels they are too dangerous).  Detweiller is willing to sell rights except movie rights, which he will write himself.  Editor John Kenyon makes the mistake of considering the manuscript which turns out to have some very authentic photographs of a human sacrifice.  Zenith informs the authorities who, upon investigating, see the so-called victim appearing to be very alive (he isn't) and moving about.  Detweiller is incensed and begins to send Kenyon illiterate, rambling threatening letters.

Another editor, Bill Gelb, found himself the target of another would-be writer, Major General Anthony R. Hecksler (ret.), who did not take kindly to having his book Twenty Psychic Garden Flowers rejected by a man he described as the "designated Jew."  Hecksler's campaign of threats against Gelb and Zenith eventually got him locked up in an insane asylum.

What with psychotic authors and marginal profits, Zenith also finds itself under the gun from their corporate owners, who are threatening to close the publishing house if it does not soon release a best-seller.

The Kenyon gets a letter and a small gift from a supposed admiring reader.  The gift is a small plant.  The sender's last name on the letter is Solrac -- Carlos spelled backwards.  Kenyon thros the plant into his waste basket, where it is later retrieved by the janitor, who places it in his office.  And we're off and running.

The plant starts growing.  Its true growth can be seen only by a few people and is invisible to any one else.  Each person going near the plant smells something different, something pleasant and meaningful to that person alone, a scent from their childhood, for example.  The plant is also psychic and telepathic -- the staff at Zenith soon become a gestalt, a linked family.  They begin to perform better at their jobs.  They are brimming with positive ideas.  The plant appears to be a godsent rather than a Detweiller-send.

Zenith's two wackiest rejected authors begin plotting to kill their hated editors.  Each is plotting on his own but have a vague telepathic understanding that the other is out there, somewhere.  General Hecksler has escaped from the asylum, murdering several orderlies while doing so.  Detweiller has been psychically causing fatal accidents for those who have slighted him.  The General breaks into a crematorium, kills two workers, and then supposedly immolates himself in the crematoriums oven, allowing him to stalk the Zenith offices without suspicion.  Each acting on their own, Detweiller and the General break into the Zenith offices and hide, waiting for their victims to show up at work.  In the meantime the plant is growing ever larger but has not yet tasted blood.

The history of this little-known book by Stephen King is worth mentioning.   The Plant began as a series of chapbooks that King wrote and published through his own publishing house Philtrum Press and sent out as gifts to friends instead of Christmas cards in 1982, 1983, and 1983, after which the project was aborted.  (King evidently saw The Little Shop of Horrors at that time and felt his serial novel might seem too derivative.)  The booklets soon became collector's items, demanding high prices as more and more of his fans learned of them.  In 2000, as an experiment in alternative publishing, King began releasing the story on-line, available to anyone and asking each reader to contribute a dollar per episode; if the response was below 75%, King would discontinue the project.  (King had already had great success with his first e-Book, Riding the Bullet, and would soon try releasing original stories in audio format.)  After six episodes, reader participation fell and King closed the project.  Those six episodes, 270 pages, formed this book, which remains available online in a pdf.  King may or may not eventually get back to the story.

Because The Plant began as a small, non-commercial project for King, he had a lot of fun with it, planting Easter eggs, Tuckerisms, and inside jokes.  The janitor, for example, is named Riddley Walker, the title of a well-known book by Russell Hoban which won the John W. Cambell award in 1980.  Not content with that, the full name is Riddley Pearson Walker, a slight misspelling of suspense writer Ridley Pearson.  The character comes from the southern town of Blackwater; Blackwater is the name of a series of six books by the late horror writer Michael McDowell, whom King once described as "the finest writer of paperback originals in America today."  (Interestingly, King's wife Tabitha would later complete an unfinished novel by McDowell.)  A list of plane crash victims (the plane was brought down through Detweiller's black arts) included someone named Dallas Mayr; Mayr is a WHA Grand Master and the author of numerous suspense/horror thrillers under the name "Jack Ketchum."  These little sly nods are scattered throughout the book and there are probably many that I missed.

While The Plant may be Stephen King at his most playful, it still has all the ingredients that make King so readable:  a disparate set of characters finely honed, a sense of otherness that slowly displaces reality, an urgency that grows unrelentingly, a strong sense of time and place, the mix of humor and honesty, and a narrative that hooks you and doesn't let go.

Some day.perhaps, King will get back to this story so we can learn the final fate of Zenith Publishing and its employees.  Until then, this book remains a solid, interesting read.

Check it out.


http://club-stephenking.fr/file/the-plant/ThePlant_volume1_%20-_Zenith_%20Rising__1-6.pdf

Thursday, August 3, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: MUSKRAT RAMBLE

From 1926, Edward "Kid" Ory, the influential New Orleans jazz trombonist:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLaFT7GB34s

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MICHAEL SHAYNE: THE CASE OF THE BAYOU MONSTER

"...a face that was almost human.  It was covered in hair and there were two great claws with blood on them..."

It looks like everybody's favorite redhead private eye may have bit off more than he could chew when he is hired by an imperious woman in a case that involves half a million bucks and a deadly werewolf.  If Shayne isn't spooked by that, he should be.

From November 6, 1948, an episode directed by Bill Russo, written by Bob Wright, and starring Jeff Chandler as...

MICHAEL SHAYNE!

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iANIvHvC554

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: I WOULD DO ANYTHING FOR LOVE

Meatloaf.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GR9j36UMVu4

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

Kim Jong Un has decreed that North Korea will now have a new system of measurement.  The litre is now called the dear litre.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TO THE AISLE

A classic from The Five Satins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoHkrOJyvio

FORGOTTEN FILM: RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE (1925)

Silent movie mega-star Tom Mix stars in this adaptation of Zane Grey's novel as Texas Ranger Jim Carson.  Warner Oland, a future Charlie Chan, plays the evil lawyer Lew Walters.  Carson's sister Milly (Beatrice Burnham) and her husband Frank Erne (Arthur Morrison) are living a hard scrabble life after their move out west with their young daughter Bess.  Walters and his henchmen are about to be kicked out of town and, since Walters is obsessed with Milly, he kidnaps her and Bess, wounding Frank in the process.  Before Frank dies, he tells Jim Carson what has happened.  Jim dedicates his life to finding his sister and niece.  Walters, learning of Frank's death, forces Milly to marry him and hires the head of an outlaw gang to take young Bess away.  Milly searches through the wilderness for her daughter and dies without finding her.

After years of searching, Jim Carson -- now known as Jim Lassiter -- learns of Milly's death.  Walters has also changed his name -- he is now known as Judge Dyer (but is still as crooked).  Carson/Lassiter joins up with rancher Jane Witherstein (Mabel Ballin) in her struggle against a band of rustlers known as the Riders of the Purple Sage.

Will Tom Mix find his niece?  Will he and Jane be able to rid the country of the feared Riders of the Purple Sage?  Will Lew Walters/Judge dyer finally get his comeuppance?  You'll just have to watch this to find out.  Or, you can probably guess the answers to those questions.

Riders of the Purple Sage was directed by Lynn Reynolds, who directed 81 films -- mostly westerns -- before shooting himself at age 35 after an argument with his wife.  Edfrid Bingham, who adapted Grey's novel for this film, appears to have had a less tragic life (little is known about him), having written 37 scenarios from 1916 through 1927; he died in 1930 at age 59.

A good story, decent acting, great scenery, and plenty of action...Saddle up, partners, and enjoy!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aogO0I8zvvU

Monday, July 31, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SMALL TOWN

"Hey, guys, what's a good rhyme for 'small town'?"  "Hmm.  How about 'small town'?"  "Genius!"

Here's John Mellencamp.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CVLVaBECuc

EVEN MORE INCOMING


  • "George G. Gilman" (Terry Harknett), Edge #3:  Apache Death.  Adult entry in what may be the most violent western series ever published.  "Out of the American west rides a new hero.  He rides alone, trusts no one.  Edge isn't fair, doesn't worry much...and even when he loses he's better off than the poor guy who thinks he's won.  Fairness is what the other guy worries about.  Fear is for losers.  You won't forget Edge, nobody alive does."
  • "Matthew S. Hart" (Geo. W. Proctor, this time), Cody's Law #7:  End of the Line.  Western. ( The Cody's Law series ran for 12 books, most written by James Reasoner.  Reasoner wrote the first six books in the series , then co-authored books 8, 9, 11, and 12 with Bill Crider.  Rumor has it that Joe R. Lansdale contributed one chapter to End of the Line.) "When a Teas and Pacific train jumps the rail near the quiet town of Terrell, it's soon apparent that the bloody incident was no accident.  Someone deliberately pulled the spikes on that section of track, and now it's up to Texas Ranger Sam Cody to find out who.  Bur posing as a railroad detective will get Cody more than answers.  It will get him ambushed, shot at. and kidnapped.  and it will put the rugged lawman in dangerous proximity to a gun-toting beauty who'll do anything to protect her father and brother from a hangman's noose -- even fill a handsome Ranger full of lead."
  • "Lee Child" (Jim Grant), Echo Burning.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "Thumbing across the scorched Texas desert, Jack Reacher has nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there.  Cruising the same stretch of two-lane blacktop is Carmen Greer*.  For Reacher, the lift comes with a hitch.  Carmen's got a story to tell, and it's a wild one -- all about her husband, her family secrets, and a hometown that's purely gothic.  She's also got a plan.  Reacher's part of it.  And before the sun sets, this ride could cost them both their lives."
  • Peter Rabe, Stop This Man!  Crime thriller.  "All Tony Catell knew when he broke into the university science lab was that they had a gold ingot on the premises for some sort of experiment.  So he stole it.  What he didn't know was that the experiment involved nuclear power -- and that the gold was dangerously radioactive.  Now the cops and the FBI are on Tony's trail, Tony's underworld contacts don't want anything to do with him, and the loot he's lugging around is leaving a swath of radiation sickness and death in his path.  And since he's just come from his third stint in prison, if they catch him, he's not going back to jail -- he's going to the electric chair..."  A Hardcase Crime reprint edition, so it's hard to go wrong here.
  • Dennis Wheatley, The Launching of Roger Brook.  Historical novel, the first of Wheatley's Roger Brook spy adventures.  "George the Mad is still on England's throne, having cost that nation her most valued colonies.  Marie Antoinette and Louis are still flaunting their royal vanities and debaucheries in France's angry, revolutionary faces.  Europe is a tinderbox, who will strike the match?  Tall, blue-eyed Roger Brook, soon to become Prime Minister Pitt's most resourceful secret agent, was just setting out to find fame, fortune and adventure in 1783.  He might never had set out at all if it had not been for the wicked Georgina Thursby, and he most certainly would never had been involved in the secrets of French foreign policy had it not been for the ravishing Athenais de Rochambeau; but once on the way, it would take more than women to stop him..."  Wheatley (1897-1977) was at one time one of the world's best-selling authors, but he has fallen out of favor.  I still enjoy his work, however.

* Carmen Greer!  Are you kidding me!

INCOMING


  • Alan Dean Foster, Transformers:  The Veiled Threat.  SF quasi-movie tie-in, a prequel to the some Transformers flick (the really bad one with loud noises, CGI gone amok, incomprehensible shots, pitiful script, poor direction, and Shia LeBoeuf -- wait, that doesn't narrow it down).  The book was published in 2009; Transformers was released in 2007; Tranformers:  Revenge of the Fallen was released in 2009; the cover of the book proclaims :THE OFFICIAL PREQUEL TO THE UPCOMING BLOCKBUSTER FILM and inside fron cover blurbs "Look for the thrilling novel based on the new Transformers movie!"  So when this book was released, no one had any idea what the movie was going to be titled.  (And maybe, just maybe, Foster wrote this "prequel" without knowing what the movie's plot was going to be.)  No matter.  "Life on earth [sic] has changed forever as humans and their courageous robotic allies, the Autobots, must work together to protect the planet from the destructive forces of the evil Decepticons.  At the headquarters of NEST, tech sergeant Epps and captain Lennox both guard and assist cyberneticist Kaminari Ishihara and the brooding Russian AI genius [sic] Petr Andronov as they explore the differences between the organics and bots.  In the meantime, all around them, alliances fray, distrust grows, suspicions mount, and traitors come out of the shadows.  Optimus Prime, the powerful leader of the Autobots who is also [sic] part of NEST, is on the defensive as battles flare up from Australia to Zimbabwe.  But escalating Decepticon attacks will culminate in a final confrontation from which no one -- man -- or machine -- will emerge unscathed."  Geez, at the very least, Foster deserved a halfway decent blurb writer.  And if this prequel culminates "in a final confrontation," what's left for the movie?
  • Margaret C. Sullivan, The Jane Austen Handbook:  Proper Life Skills from Regency England.  WWJD* nonfiction.  "Every young lady dreams of a life spent exchanging witty asides with a dashing Mr. Darcy, but how should you let him know your intentions?  seek counsel from this charming guide to Jane Austen's world.  Its step-by-step instructions reveal the practicalities of life in Regency England, including sensible advice on:
          " - How to behave at your first ball
          " - How to ride sidesaddle
          " - How to decline an unwanted marriage proposal
          " - How to improve your estate
          " - How to throw a dinner party
          " -- and much more."

          Don't you wish you had this book when you were dating?




* What Would Jane Do?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: K. C. LOVING

From 1952, Little Willie Littlefield with the first version of a classic Stoller-Leiber song you might recognize as "Kansas City."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih4CVP7S08k&index=4&list=PL0C7C630E4BEFB188

ROBOTMEN OF THE LOST PLANET #1 (1952)

Here's the first issue of a comic book that never had a second.  Written by the prolific Walter Gibson (he of The Shadow fame) and drawn by Gene Fawcette, Robotmen of the Lost Planet* has an odd little charm to it that is not diminished by poor editing.  The tale is told in three chapters.

The time is the future.  Humans have gone soft.  All work is done by robots -- queer looking things made of synthetic flesh with a giant egg-like head the size of a human body.  The robots have even taken over the production of new robots.

Our hero, Alan Arc, is celebrating his wedding to the beautiful Nara when he receives word that his father wishes to speak to him.  Alan's father is worried about the robots; he wants Alan and Nara to come with him to inspect a robot manufacturing site.  He hands Alan some papers, saying that they were the plans for making weapons -- if anything should happen to him.  The robots will only let Alan's father into the site, so Alan and Nara wait outside only to soon see his father being thrown to his death by a robot.  They run to the emperor (a fat, do-nothing glutton) to warn them that something is up with the robots.  That's when the robots get a worldwide signal to attack, massacring most of humanity.  Alan, Nara, and a few survivors manage to escape and hide out in a remote cave.

Some wedding day, huh?

A few words about Nara's inconsistent clothing.  She is basically wearing a blue sleeveless dress that come down to just above her knees.  In one panel, this inexplicably becomes a blue one-piece bathing suit.  In another panel,the dress is no longer sleeveless.  In yet another panel, someone forgot to color the dress.  I found the whole thing disconcerting.  Also, in one panel Alan is shirtless while in every other panel he wears a green short-sleeved shirt, unbuttoned at the neck.  The robots wear red pants or red shorts, depending on their mood. I guess.  Or, perhaps their status.  It's something to make me wonder if they have robot genitalia that they want to cover.

Fast forward five years.  Alan and Nara are still in the cave, which they have turned into a crude laboratory where Alan is trying to create the synthetic flesh used on the robots.  It's his hope to eventually disguise himself as a robot using the flesh and to spy on his enemies.  Alan and Nara now have a son, a cute curly-haired four-year-old named Laurie.  Being cave-bound, Laurie has never seen a robot and has no fear of them.  Alan disguises himself as a robot (big head and all) and infiltrates the robot manufacturing facility.  There, he discovers that the robots are embedding nerve ganglia into their bodies in an effort to become more human-like.  Why?  Who knows?  But the robots are no longer invincible -- they can feel pain.

A few more brief words about sartorial choices.  Now that they are cavemen (and women), are now dressed in fur, flintstones-like, with an over the shoulder look for the men and a sleeveless look for the women and briefs for Laurie (who appears to be the only kid around).  In a couple of panels, Nara is back to her blue one-piece swimsuit -- At least when the remember to color it.  Fashion is confusing in the ost-apocalyptic world.

Another five years have past to get us to the third chapter.  Now the cave are all filled with fancy electronic equipment.  The caves are wired for electricity although is is uncertain how it is generated.  But, who cares?  Mankind is ready to strike back!  Little Laurie wanders off from the cave and encounters some robots.  (Laurie may be nine now, but methinks his brain has stopped developing at four.)  Laurie shoots at them with a toy gun.  Or is it?  The robots run off in fear and soon report to their leader, The Great Master, AA-Plus Robot.  Anyway, this sets up the scene for the final confrontation.

Who will win?  Mankind, who has just dragged itself from savagery in just ten years?  Or the murderous evil robots who, while hating humans, are trying to be more like them?

One final fashion note.  Laurie had grown out of his fur briefs.  He now wears a complete little boy outfit -- normal shirt, shorts, shoes...  Everybody else is still wearing the Flintstone outfits.  Lucky Laurie!

This issue also contains a onus story, "Cargo from Mars."  Strange things are happening at the North Pole Beacon Lighthouse and immigration officer George La Grange is sent to investigate.  There he stumbles upon a blind Earth-girl "clad in the costume of the Martian-Valley country."  And, yeah, he also stumbles upon danger.

Enjoy Robotmen of the Lost Planet #1 and weep that there never a Robotmen of the Lost Planet #2.


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=14926


* BTW, we are never told why Earth is a "Lost Planet."  Nor, I suppose, do we need to know why.

Friday, July 28, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SATISFACTION

You can't get much better than this one from the Stones.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrIPxlFzDi0

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE RADIO MAN (1948)


"Ralph Milne Farley" was the major pseudonym of Roger Sherman Hoar (1887-1963), a Harvard-educated lawyer, constitutional expert, patent law expert, one-time state senator and former assistant attorney general of Massachusetts, grandson of US attorney general Ebenzer Hoar and great-great-grandson of Declaration  of Independence signer Roger Sherman.

He was also a close friend of Edgar Rice Burroughs, which may explain his penchant for planetary romance in much of his writing.

The Radio Man, the first in a series of stories about transplanted Earthman Myles Cabot, originally appeared as a four-part serial in Argosy (which touted the story as scientifically accurate!) in the early summer of 1924.  It was reprinted as a three-part serial in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1939-1940 and finally appeared in book format from Fantasy Publishing company in 1948.  Under the title An Earthman on Venus, it made its paperback debut from Avon book in 1950.  A year later, artist Wally Wood produced a 26-page comic book for Avon Publishing as "An Avon Fantasy Classic," retaining the paperback title (see below).

The book opens with a meteor crashing into a field on Ralph Farley's Chappaquiddick salt water farm.  Inside the meteor was a golden ball made of some sort of impenetrable material.  After some effort, Farley figured how to open the ball and found something wrapped tightly in a silver material -- a manuscript signed by Myles Cabot.  Cabot was a wealthy electrical engineer who had been tickering with radio experiment in his Boston Townhouse when he had mysteriously vanished from his locked laboratory and was never seen again.  The manuscript tells his tale.

Cabot's experiments in radio waves created a matter transmitter which brought him to a strange clouded world, later to be proven to be Venus.  He was on a large continent surrounded by a violent boiling sea which prevented ocean travel or even air travel above it, leaving the possibility of
unknown lands, wonders, and adventures for possible future stories.  The continent is ruled by a race of giant, technologically sophisticated ants.  Captured by the ants, Cabot is threatened by one he dubs Satan and is saved by one he calls Doggo.  Doggo takes Cabot to his own house while a council of ants decide what sort of creature he is and what his fate will be.

The ants are called Formians.  They communicate telepathically through their antennae and are unable to speak or hear.  Cabot is taught to communicate through their written language.  One day he sees a human-like creature in the garden.  She is a Cupian, the other major race on the continent; Cupians are human enough except for their small, insect-like wings and their antennae.  They also have no ears and have six digits on each hand and foot.  But this Cupian is human enough (and beautiful enough) for Cabot.  It turns our she is a Cupian princess, forced to serve the Formians for a two-year stint.

Some Venusian history:  Once the Cupians ruled twelve small kingdoms on the continent and the Formians ruled just one.  The war-like Formians, knowing they were the master race, began conquering the Cupian kingdoms one at a time.  Each Cupian kingdom was interested in only its own turf and did nothing to oppose the Formians as they attacked other kingdoms.  Soon, the Formians ruled the entire continent.  The Cupians were herded to a rather unusable part of the continent and were given a quisling Cupian to serve as their king as the Formians brought the entire continent to glory under Formian rule.  Oh.  And every Cupian, no matter what rank, was forced to serve the Formians for a two-year period -- and that how the lovely princess (her name is Lilla) came to Cabot's attention (but -- plot twist -- Lilla is actually there illegally; she had been kidnapped and is held without the Cupians' knowledge; oh, those vile Formians!).

Anyway, Cabot falls in love with Lilla.  She is repulsed by him: he has hair on his face (icky!) and has funny things sticking out of each side of his head (double icky!) and what's this with only five digits?  And where are his wings?  Cabot shaves, lets his hair grow to cover his ears, and uses radio technology to devise a way to communicate telepathically with some artificial antennae.  Now the Princess Lilla is a tad less repulsed.

We know what's going to happen don't we?  Cabot decides to throw his lot in with the Cupians, free them from Formian slavery, and win the heart of the princess.  And if a well-bred Massachusetts Yankee can't do that, what good is he?

Farley went on to write further "Radio" adventures of Myles Cabot (and his offspring):  The Radio Beasts, The Radio Planet, The Radio Minds, The Golden City, and The Radio Menace.  Other "Radio" stories that look as though they belong in the series do not:  The Radio Flyers, The Radio Gun-Men, and The Radio War.

The Radio Man is a fast, easy read and is recommended for those who love the interplanetary romances of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Otis Adelbert Kline.  Please remember to leave your literary judgment at the door.



BONUS:

Check out the 1951 comic book of An Earthman on Venus, drawn by the legendary Wally Wood:

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=14923

Thursday, July 27, 2017

UNDERAPPRECIATED MUSIC: UTAH PHILLIPS

Bruce Duncan Phillips (1935-2008), otherwise known as Utah Phillips, was a folksinger, labor activist, pacifist, occasional train hopper, poet, anarchist, storyteller, sometime dishwasher and warehouse worker, and radio host.  Beginning in 1961, he released thirteen solo albums and seven albums with other performers.  He was known as "The Golden Voice of the Great Southwest."

I heard Phillips only once in person, at the 1975 Bicentennial Celebration in Concord, Massachusetts.  It was at the "People's Bicentennial" -- the one taking place across "that rude bridge," not the "official" one on the other side featuring then-President Gerald Ford.  He was much more comfortable on his side of the bridge.

Let's buck the system with just a few of his songs and stories.


"Hallelujah, I'm a Bum":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9c1vSIpHA0

"There Is Power in the Union"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O93YpTYCWRk

"The Most Dangerous Woman" (with Ani DiFranco):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME3n8rAHM70

"I Remember Loving You" (with Priscilla Herdman):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgqt38CtqEo

"We Have You All a Thousand Years":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWTXyO2MOlQ

"Starlight on the Rails":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KJ2GFCM4Q8

"Phoebe Snow":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-lgbcpFvjs


"The Preacher and the Slave (Pie in the Sky)":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8qoB1XwtHM

"Enola Gay':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp3Yp8g4YDU

Here's the story of "Moose Turd Pie":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zb1qsVqjwg

"Joe Hill":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRRYctD_jMk

"Queen of the Rails":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EpEmLRWIzs

"Bread and Roses":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8nvHJiPKZ4

"Natural Resources" (with Ani DiFranco):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuegVoHM4tY

"The Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEKt78yPHmQ

"Soup":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI84APGsMh0

"I've Got to Know":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHk_MEiR4Sk

"Old Buddy Goodnight"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SwPu7IgSAI

"Dump the Bosses off Our Bak":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTOC4zej_S4

"Oatmeal":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1sTpmDD-f4

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: ROCKET 88

Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAwUesMFM1E

SUSPENSE: CIRCUMSTANTIAL TERROR

From March 8, 1954, here's an episode of Suspense starring the Gipper himself, Ronald Reagan.  Reagan plays Frank Thomson, a down-on-his-luck guy who is framed for the murder of a storekeeper.  No one believes he's innocent, not even the public defender assigned to his case.

"Circumstantial Terror" also features Charles Calvert, Hal Gerard, Howard McNear, Vic Perrin, Kurt Martell, and Clayton Post.  Ross Murray wrote the script and Elliott Lewis produced and directed this episode.

Enjoy this selection from "radio's outstanding theater of thrills."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4e-RvVOVRU4


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DOVER BEACH

When you're talking 60s counterculture, you might just be talking The Fugs.  Ed Sanders, Tuli Kupferberg, and their merry little gang took political satire, drugs, and shock lyrics to a whole new level.  Here they interpret Matthew Arnold's poem "Dover Beach."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKByZIL_00g

OVERLOOKED FILM: ANYTHING GOES (1956)

Well, that's a base canard.  Anything Goes is hardly an overlooked film...Bing Crosby, Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Phil Harris, and among the uncredited actors, Nancy Kulp, and Ruta Lee ...some immortal Cole Porter songs...screenplay by Sidney Shelton, from the wonderful Guy Bolton/P. G. Wodehouse play...what could be better?  Well, perhaps the 1936 version of the film, also starring Bing Crosby, but that one's been removed from Youtube.  Oh, well.

Still, this one is pretty entertaining.

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcRT1zo6ddw

Monday, July 24, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: I WON'T GO HUNTIN WITH YOU, JAKE, BUT I'LL GO CHASING WOMEN

Jesse Rogers and his 49ers.

A classic (from my past, at least).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMkLFWa0UJ4

INCOMING


  • Lois McMaster Bujold, Young Miles.  SF omnibus of two novels and a novella in the Miles Vorkosigan series:  The Warrior's Apprentice, "The Mountains of Mourning" (winner of the 1990 Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novella), and The Vor Game (winner of the 1991 Hugo Award for Best Novel).
  • David Drake, The Far Side of the Stars.  Military SF, the third novel in the Lt. Leary series.  "While the Republic of Cinnabar is at peace with the Alliance, warriors like Lt. Daniel Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy must find other work -- like escorting a pair of wealthy nobles on an expedition to the back of beyond!  The Princess Cecile, the corvette in which they carved their reputations in letters of fire, has been sold as a private yacht, but she still has her guns, her missiles, and her veteran crew.  Daniel and Adele will need all of those things as they face winged dragons, an Alliance auxiliary cruiser, jealous lovers, and a mysterious oracle which really does see the future.  That won't be enough, though, when they penetrate a secret Alliance base and find a hostile fleet ready for a war that will sweep Cinnabar out of a strategically crucial arm of the galaxy.  Preventing that will involve skill, courage,and more luck than a sane man could even pray for, and it will require a space battle on a scale that a tiny corvette like The Princess Cecile has no business being involved in."
  • Adrian McKinty, In the Morning I'll Be Gone.  A Sean Duffy mystery, the third book in The Troubles trilogy.  "The early 1980s.  Belfast.  Sean Duffy, a conflicted Catholic cop in the Protestant RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) is recruited by MI5, the British intelligence agency, to hunt down Dermot McCann, an IRA master bomber who has made a daring escape from the notorious Maze Prison.  In the course of his investigations Sean discovers a woman who may hold the key to Dermot's whereabouts:  she herself wants justice for her daughter who died under mysterious circumstances in a pub locked from the inside.  Sean knows that if he can crack the "locked room mystery," the bigger mystery of Dermot's location might be revealed to him as a reward.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down to the 1984 Conservative Party Conference in Brighton, where Mrs. Thatcher is due to give a keynote speech..."
  • Robert B. Parker, Blue Screen, a Sunny Randall mystery in which "Sunny is hired vy a sleazy producer to serve as bodyguard for his prize client -- an impossibly spoiled B-list beauty whose backstory is full of deadly complications..."  And there's a guest appearance by Paradise police chief Jesse Stone!  Speaking of Stone, Death in Paradise,  in which "Stone is looking for two things:  the killer of a teenage girl -- and someone, anyone, who is willing to claim the body..."  Jesse Stone also takes center stage in Sea Change:  "after the body of a divorced Florida heiress washes ashore in Paradise, Jess Stone discovers her kinkly secrets -- and a sordid past that casts suspicion on everyone she knew, from firends to family.  Unfortunately no one is talking, so it's up to Stone to speak for the dead..."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

CARTOONS ON TOUR

Released by Edison in 1915, this live action/animated gem is an "Animated Grouch Chaser."

Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvKbasSNz-c

HYMN TIME

John P. Kee & NLCC.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZ3KMuXQZw8

ASIMOV, ELLISON, AND WOLFE TALK SF

Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison, and Gene Wolfe talk science fiction writing with Studs Terkel and Calvin Trillin.  O, to be a fly on the wall for this conversation.  Wait.  We are!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZvcKB9vQO0&list=PLBmnUYGZ9eQcRum1V3MXrCSwQK71nsEBh&index=15

HYMN TIME

The five Blind Boys of Mississippi.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yhHIqsOanI

Saturday, July 22, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: I WONDER WHY

A little bit of 1954 doo-wop from The Cadillacs.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK1O2Ar_wxo

AMERICA'S BLACK AND WHITE BOOK

America's Black and White Book:  Why We Are at War -- 100 Pictured Reasons by W. A. Rogers (1917).  Editorial cartoons from The New York Herald.

William Allen Rogers (1954-1931) began publishing his work at the age of fourteen in a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper.  A self-taught artist, his first big break came when her was nineteen and was hired as an illustrator for New York's Daily Graphic newspaper.  Four years later, he was hired by Harper's Weekly (where he remained for twenty-five years) to draw political cartoons following the departure of Thomas Nast.   After leaving Harper's, Rogers began a twenty-year stint at The New York Herald drawing daily political cartoons.

From Rogers' introduction to this book:


"Each government engaged in the European War has issued a White, Green, Blue, or Yellow Book, explaining the causes which led to its entry into the great conflict.

"These books are all interesting, and are full of valuable documentary information; but, if the busy people of America are to understand the reasons for their own participation in the war, some shorter cut to the desired end must be devised.

"We, therefore, offer a BLACK AND WHITE BOOK, in which our nation's reasons for going to war are set forth in pictures, a universal language which can be read at a glance by anyone who has eyes to see."


These editorial cartoons are pure propaganda:  GERMANS BAD!  They do however, gauge much of the feelings of the ordinary American at the time and detail the popular reasons the this country finally went to war.  It was not the purview of this book to go into the complicated and often inane reasons the war began.

Today the books remains as a snapshot in time, a compelling look at an America which was about to become a major player on the world stage, told with visual artistry by W. A. Rogers in a mere 100 drawings.

Enjoy.


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=41209

Friday, July 21, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: ROCKIN' PNEUMONIA AND THE BOOGIE-WOOGIE BLUES

Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUrASJk5WBU

FORGOTTEN BOOK: BLOOD ON THE MOON

Blood on the Moon by Basil Copper (1986)


This week many of the Friday's Forgotten Book participants are focusing on books about heists or bank robberies.  My  offering doesn't really hit the mark, but if it's a moonless night in a dark room and you squint your eyes, it comes almost close.

British author Basil Copper's laconic L.A. private detective Mike Faraday has appeared in over 50 novels.  Faraday's exploits are unique in the genre if only because the American language and idioms can't stand a chance against the British language and idioms.  (Cars, of course, have bonnets but they also have mainbeams.  Pruning shears are secateurs.  The master bedroom of a studio apartment happens to hold a corpse.)  Faraday's world is that of the tough pulp private eye; he operates in an unrevealed era that seems to combine the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties...and a bit beyond -- whichever seems to suit a particular scene.  This is also a world where a company can be protected by high-tech computers and electronics, but it's also a world where few know about computers and electronics but even an ordinary P.I. like Faraday can work out how these devises can be used to pull off an "impossible" crime.  It's also a world where Faraday's luscious secretary Stella makes the world's best coffee, to the point where, when Faraday has to rush out of his office, he stops to drink two cups.  And Faraday's first person narration contains some fairly tortured sentences

In other words, it's a mess.  But it's an enjoyable, wacky kind of mess that is habit-forming.

The case involves the theft of five million dollars from a locked box in one of fifty vaults at the prestigious Van Opper Trust.  Here's where the computers and electronics come in -- every box Van Opper holds has a camera in them that keeps a computerized eye on the contents.  So how did the money vanish from a box that hadn't been opened since the account was activated and while the camera was doing spot checks on its contents?

Enter Faraday -- thirty-three, brash, common, and with a reputation of getting things done.  Faraday's not the sharpest knife in the drawer (that distinction seems to go to Stella, she of the great coffee-making ability) but he has good instincts (usually) and figured out how the theft was done during his first day on the case.  Problem is the thieves start getting murdered and Faraday can't find out where the five mil has gone.  He knows someone was pulling the strings on this caper, a Mr. Big lurking in the background.

Along the way Faraday comes across an oil millionairess who has suddenly become ill and reclusive, a Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper, a racketeer kingpin named Alex Rocco (not the actor from The Godfather) who may or may not have gone straight, a mobster who runs a hit men for hire operation, a 10,000 square foot bookstore where odd things seem to happen, a non-existent 1897 "first" edition of Alice in Wonderland, a cabaret singer, and a phony secretary who quickly has the hots for Faraday.

With the the pulp P.I. tropes and anti-tropes floating around the story, Faraday must still find out the identity of Mr. Big.

I enjoy enjoy this cock-eyed, bullet-laden series taken oh-so-seriously by the author,but the reader has to be  a certain mood to get through one.

One last point:  the 1958-61 television detective Peter Gunn is referenced at one point in the book, but his name is given as "Peter Gun."  That may have been a typo, but a part of me wonders if it really was.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: GIVE ME FIVE MINUTES MORE

Tex Beneke and The Miller Orchestra.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCSnfPALcuE

THE SHADOW: THE HOSPITAL MURDERS

Who knows what fear lurks in the hearts of men?  Orson Welles knows.

From August 14, 1938.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-scB7ndNUVQ

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SMOKE ON THE WATER

Deep Purple...with the London Symphony Orchestra.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nENrB7hvplY

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY

What's the difference between a hippo and a Zippo?

One's really heavy and the other is a little lighter.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: HILF MIR SONYA

Back in the early Seventies, Kitty and would stop in at an Irish pub in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  The pub happened to feature a group from Ireland; I believe its name was The Castlebridge Union.  I don't remember much except that it was an entertaining group.  Lots of Irish music, plus their version of the Beach Boys "Help Me Rhonda" -- a song that needs a few pints of Guinness to appreciate it being sung with a heavy Irish accent.  I also remember Ted Kennedy sitting at a corner table really enjoying the show.

Anyway, I tried to find an Irish version of "Help Me Rhonda" on the web but couldn't.  So I gues you'll have to do with this German version from a group called Strandjungs.

Enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbIim7VRDog

OVERLOOKED MOVIE: THE SCAR (1948)

Paul Henreid plays John Muller, a medical school dropout who has recently been released from prison for practicing medicine without a license.  Bored with the job given him by the parole board, Muller gathers a gang of crooks to rob a local casino.  Things go awry and some of Muller's gang are killed.  Muller himself goes into hiding from a vengeful casino owner.  then Muller is mistaken for psychiatrist Dr. Bartok, who looks exactly like Muller except that Bartok has a large scar on one side of his face.  Muller sees Bartok's secretary (and lover) Evelyn Nash (Joan Bennett) and falls in love with her.  Deciding to impersonate Bartok, Muller scars his own face but, only after killing Bartok, realizes he scarred the wrong side of his face.  Things start to downhill from there until a number insignificant details brings us to a startling conclusion.

Henreid produced this film himself because he wanted (finally) to play a bad guy.  Directed by Steve Sekely, a Hungarian-born director of B-movies best known for THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS, The Scar was scripted by Daniel Fuchs from a novel by radio actor Murray Forbes.

The Scar is also known as Hollow Triumph and The Man Who Murdered Himself.

A pretty good Forties noir flick.  Look closely for Jack Webb in the uncredited role of Bullseye.


https://archive.org/details/TheScar

Monday, July 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: RUDOLPH THE RED NOSED REINDEER

Great googly mooglies!  I came across a Regis Philbin Christmas album in a local thrift store this week and -- lo and behold! -- there was this song he did with Donald Trump, the Trumpster!  I did not, would not, could not buy the album but I came away determined to inflict this monstrosity on you.  Here's a clip of them performing (?)/ butchering Gene's song on Letterman back in 2005.  Please note the length of the Donald's tie -- he still hasn't learned.

Suffer, my children.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc6sWhFXPw4

INCOMING


  • Lee Child, The Enemy.  A Jack Reacher thriller.  "new Year's Day, 1990.  In a North Carolina motel, a two-star general is found dead.  His briefcase is missing.  no one knows what was in it.  Within minutes Reacher has his orders:  Control the situation.  Within hours the general's wife is murdered.  Then the dominoes really start to fall."  I've been going through a lot of Lee Child's books recently with no sign of me stopping.
  • John Creasey as "Anthony Morton," The Baron in France.  Mystery/crime novel about John Mannering, former jewel thief known as The Baron, who "is called upon to solve the brutal murder of jewelry dealer Bernard Dale, and to find the Gramercy jewels, a fabulous collection that has been stolen Dale's smart flat in Surrey after the murder.  Tony Bennett*, Dale's associate and a likable chap with countless friends, is accused and arrested.  No one believes he is guilty, but the evidence points to him alone, so the police have no choice but to consider him the murderer and thief -- even though the Gramercys are not in possession.  Mannering goes into action..."  Creasey published some forty books about The Baron, who was also featured in a fairly forgettable television series.
  • Loren D. Estleman, Poison Blonde.  An Amos Walker mystery.  "Who is Gilia Cristobal?  She's simply one of the hottest of hot Latina singers.  But nothing in her life is simple.  In her native land she was involved with people her government didn't like, and she barely escaped with her life to start fresh in the U.S.  In her wake she left accusations about a former lover, about violence, about blackmail.  Now she's in Detroit to make music and wants Amos Walker to protect her from those who have threatened her life.  She also wants him to investigate someone from the darkest chapter of her former life.  When Walker realizes the Gilia's main man, recently out of prison, doesn't regret the time he nearly killed Walker, what at first seemed like an easy payday starts looking more and more like a losing proposition.  Latin heat, indeed."  I'm betting this book reads much better than the back cover blurb.
  • Alan Dean Foster, Interlopers.  SF novel.  "Upset stomachs.  The collapse of civilizations.  Nervous breakdowns.  Blame them on a twist of fate, but Archaeologist Cody Westcott knows differently.  Something is causing these random acts of badness.  something ancient, something evil, something...hungry.  we are not alone, but we're about to wish we were..."
  • Bill Knox, Wavecrest/Susan Dunlap, Not Exactly a Brahmin/Robert L. Duncan, In the Enemy Camp.  A 1985  Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition.  The Knox is one of his Webb Carrick mysteries.  "Carrick is prepared to accept and deal with the banality of the local fishermen and midnight forays by foreign trawlers as an inevitable part of his job with the Fisheries Protection Services.  It's a killer's secret plan that makes Webb a sitting duck."  Dunlap's book was the third published in her Jill Smith series.  "Ralph Palmerton's murder is Homicide Detective Jill Smith's first case.  Although painstaking investigation has come up with seven suspects, it takes a silly party to reveal the killer."  The Robert L. Duncan is one of his  thrillers.  "From the dangerous back alleys of Jakarta to the lush villas of millionaires, Chalres Clements and a psychopathic killer engage in a deadly contest for world control."
  • Adrian McKinty, The Bloomsday Dead.  The final book in McKinty's Dead Trilogy.  "Running hotel secrurity at a resort in Lima, Peru, Michael (Forsythe) has been lying low and staying out of trouble -- until two Columbian hit men hold him at gunpoint, and force him to take a call from his ex-lover. Bridget Callaghan.  At that moment she offers him a terrible choice:  come to Ireland and find my daughter, or my men will kill you -- now.  Once in Dublin, in the span of a single day. Michael;penetrates the heart of an IRA network, escapes his own kidnapping, and then worms his way into a sinister criminal underground in search of the missing girl.  But before the day is out, Michael once again finds himself face-to-face with his kidnappers -- as well as the lovely and murderous Bridget.  There he must confront a series of shocking truths about himself -- and do whatever it takes to stay alive."
  • Robert B. Parker, Hugger Mugger.  A Spenser mystery.  "when Spenser is approached by Walter Clive, president of (Georgia's) Three Fillies Stables, to find out who is threatening his horse Hugger Mugger, he can hardly say no:  he's been doing pro bono work for so long his cupboards are just about bare.  Disregarding the resentment of the local law enforcement, Spenser takes the case...Despite the veneer of civility, there are tensions beneath the surface southern gentility.  The rest of the Clive family isn't exactly thrilled with Spenser's presence, the security chief has made it clear he'll take orders from no one, and the local sheriff's deputy seems content to sit back and wait for another attack.  But the case takes a deadly turn when the attacker claims a human victim..."  As usual, there's large type, wide margins, and short, snappy dialog.  A fast read.
  • "Hugh Pentecost" (Judson Phillips), The Copycat Killers/Michael Gilbert, The Black Seraphim/Donald MacKenzie, Raven's Longest Night.  A 1983 Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition.  Pentecost's Uncle George was more commonly found in short stories but he appear in a few novels -- including this one.  "George Crowther's law career was assured; no one expected the young man to abandon it and retreat to a cabin in the woods.  With his dog, Timmy, George spent years in the wild areas, learning them, knowing when something was wrong with his territory, but it is Timmy who discovers the horror.  A rubber tube lies poking out of the earth, a moan emerging from it -- when the earth is opened George discovers a coffin in which a young man has been buried alive.  It is a message for someone, a deadly message."  I read this one when it first came out and really enjoyed it.  Gilbert was a MWA Grand Master and recipient of the 1994 Diamond Dagger Award.  The Black Seraphim is a stand-alone novel and was a finalist for both the Edgar and Gold Dagger Awards:  "Twenty-four-year-old James Scotland is a brilliant young pathologist -- a badly overworked pathologist who needs a vacation.  His month in a small British ton begins quietly enough -- but beneath the quiet facade of the old cathedral town, poisonous passions surface.  A well-deserved break ends abruptly for Dr. Scotland."  Gotta love those poisonous passions!  Before he turned to a successful writing career, Donald MacKenzie spent twenty-five years as a confidence man and robber, giving him a fairly knowledgeable background for his mystery novels.  MacKenzie's most popular series (sixteen novels) concerned John Raven, a Scotland Yard officer, and later an unlicensed private investigator.  "Raven has been framed!  Count Stephen Szechenyi, in political exile in Spain for most of his life, desperately needs help; it comes too late.  Murdered, Count Szechenyi is used to put John Raven into a Spanish prison -- Raven's prints are found on the gun, but he didn't kill the count.  Who did?  And Why?"
  • Walter J. Sheldon, Rites of Murder.  A Bishop Burdick mystery.  I don't know a thing about this one.  Sheldon was a somewhat prolific pulp writer.  What I have from him has been solid journeyman work.
  • S. M. Stirling & David Drake, The Reformer.  Military SF novel, seventh in The General series and the last by Stirling, although Drake has written three further books in the series with other co-authors.  "After the collapse of the galactic Web, civilizations crumbled and chaos reigned on thousands of planets.  Only on planet Bellevue was there a difference.  there, a Fleet Battle Computer named Center had survived from the old civilization.  When it found Raj Whitehall, the man who could execute its plan for reviving human civilization, he and Center started Bellevue back on the road leading to the stars; and when Bellevue reached that goal, Center send copies of itself and Raj to the thousands of worlds still waiting for the light of civilization to dawn.  On Hafardine, civilization had fallen even further than most.  That men came from the stars was not even a rumor of memory in Adrian Gellert's day.  The empire of Venbret spread across the lands in a sterile splendor that could only end in another collapse, more ignominious and complete than the first.  Adrian Gellert was a philosopher, a student whose greatest desire was a life of contemplation in the service of wisdom...until he toughed the 'holy relic' that contained the disincarnate minds of Raj Whitehall and Center.  On that day, Adrian's search for wisdom would lead him to a life of action, from the law-courts of Venbret to the pirate cities of the Archipelago -- and battlefields bloodier than any in the history he'd learned.  And the prize was the future of humanity."
  • "Sara Woods" (Sara Bowen-Judd), Put Out the Light/"James Melville" (Roy Peter Martin), The Death Ceremony/Aaron J. Elkins, Murder in the Queen's Armes.  Another Detective Book Club 3-in-1 edition, again from 1985.  The Woods is one of the last books in her long-running series about barrister Athony Maitland; Woods died in 1985 although the series continued until 1987 with the 48th novel about Maitland.  "Antony Maitland latest case is fought outside the courtroom, without the aid of police.  Singlehanded he must exorcise a ghost and catch a killer.  If his plan fails, an innocent man faces death."   Melville's book is the seventh in his series about Kobe, Japan's Superintendent of Police Tetsuo Otani.  "Iemoto, the Grand Master of the Tea Ceremony, was shot and killed before Superintendent Otani's eyes.  It's a point of honor for Otani to find and pursue the murderer."  Elkins (who usually publishes without his middle initial) gives the third in his series about anthropology professor Gideon Oliver.  "Gideon faces a relentless foe.  All of his expertise in tracking down a murderer will be useless unless he can escape the trap the killer has set."  You may notice that the blurbs on these Detective Book Club editions are pretty generic and often belie the quality of some of the novels.


*  No, not that Tony Bennett, although he is also a likable chap.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

ANNE LAMOTT: 12 TRUTHS I LEARNED FROM LIFE AND WRITING

Anne Lamott is the author of seven novels and ten books of nonfiction.  She is a popular author, activist, and public speaker.  Lamott was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in 1985 and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2010.  Her writing, like this TED Talk, is marked with humor and openness.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X41iulkRqZU

HYMN TIME

Ethel Waters.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wETLPYOMMY

Saturday, July 15, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: IS ANYBODY GOING TO SAN ANTONE?

Charlie Pride.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohWe9v3KsQQ

WHIZ COMICS {WHEATIES MINIATURE EDITION - 1946)

Taped to boxes of Wheaties*, this give-away comic book gave you four exciting adventures:

  • CAPTAIN MARVEL tackles water thieves out west
  • CRIME SMASHER goes after a diamond thief
  • THE GOLDEN ARROW may have met his match with a spoiled child, and
  • It's IBIS THE INVINCIBLE against a witch doctor to save a judge
All this and the Breakfast of Champions, too!  How can you go wrong?


http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=69141&b=i



*  When I was a kid, Wheaties tasted pretty good.  I tried a bowl recently and it was like eating damp cardboard.  Did they change the formula?  Or did my tastes change and mature over time?  Heaven forfend!

Friday, July 14, 2017

HAPPY BASTILLE DAY, EILEEN!

Today is Bastille Day, which also means that it is the birthday of my late mother-in-law, a.k.a. "She Who Felt Kitty Could Do Better."

Of course, after thirty-some years, Eileen admitted that I was a "good guy."  I prefer to think this admission was just a long delayed reaction to my charm and essential coolness.

Eileen could be a difficult person to know but at her core she was very kind-hearted -- which was the last thing she would admit to.  We miss her every day.

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SWEET CHILD O' MINE

Guns N' Roses.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w7OgIMMRc4

FORGOTTEN BOOK: THE WOGGLE-BUG BOOK

The Woggle-Bug Book by L. Frank Baum (1905)


The Woggle-Bug was introduced to the world in Baum's The Marvelous Land of Oz.  He's not just any woggle-bug; he's the Woggle-Bug, yclept Mr. H. M. Woggle-Bug, T. E.  The H. M. stands for Highly Magnified because he is a thousand times bigger than any other woggle-bug, about the size of a man.  The T. E. stands for Thoroughly Educated because he is.  He certainly knows more than any other woggle-bug who ever existed.  Alas, he doesn't realize that being the most thoroughly educated woggle-bug that ever existed still doesn't put him close to a person's intelligence.  We take what we are dealt with and seldom acknowledge another's superiority.

The Woggle-Bug, not having human sensabilities, also does not have a human's sense of fashion.  He prefers the most outrageous clothes, the brighter and gaudier the better.  Thus we reach the heart of the tale.

We begin with the Woggle-Bug in the big city.  Although he has traveled far from Oz and has been separated from his companions, he is content.  In his ignorance he struts through the city streets believing there is nothing different about him.  He comes across a store window and there he beholds a marvelous sight -- a dress on a manikin.  Not just any dress, but a Paris original that may have been driven out of Paris in shame.  This was the gaudiest dress that ever existed.  The colors, the style, the pattern of the cloth -- all screamed beauty to the Woggle-Bug, although to an ordinary viewer the most polite description would be one of Wagnerian plaid.  Focusing on the dress and not really noticing the manikin it was on, the Woggle-Bug fell in love with the manikin.  If clothes make the man, then a gaudy dress makes the manikin.  The Woggle-Bug is immediately determined to marry the manikin.

In the window there is a sign:  GREATLY REDUCED $7.93.

The Woggle-Bug realizes that the manikin is in greatly reduced circumstances and can be his for $7.93.  Alas he has no money.  Money never existed in Oz, you see.  He gets a job shoveling dirt, something he can do really well because he has four arms, for $2.00 a day.  After two days, he has earned $4.00 -- enough to buy his bride with seven cents left over to buy her some candy.

When he gets to the store, the dress is no longer in the window and he does not recognize the manikin without the dress.  A matron exits the store wearing the dress.  There. then is his bride-to-be!  He tries to give her $7.93, explaining that the extra seven cents can used for candy, but the matron flees.

For various reasons, the dress changes hands a number of times, with the Woggle-Bug in full romantic pursuit.  First to an Irish maid, then to a widowed Swedish woman with four children, then to a Negress washwoman, and finally to a Chinese gentleman.  This gives Baum a chance to poke racist "fun" at these various groups.  (and, can be a good excuse to stop reading right then.)

The Woggle-Bug fails in every attempt to get the dress or to marry the person wearing it.  he does, however, manage to tear a goodly portion of the dress from the Chinese man.  Half a loaf being better than none, he takes the cloth and runs.

Through convenient plot circumstances, the Woggle-Bug finds himself adrift on a runaway hot air balloon, eventually landing in an oasis, where Baum pokes more racist "fun" at Arabs.  The cloth is taken from the Woggle-Bug, but before fleeing the oasis he manages to secure enough of the cloth to make a necktie.  Crossing the desert sands he reaches a jungle where he is "befriended" by a lady chimpanzee, who takes him to a jungle city run by animals.  This time Baum is poking fun at governments, with few racist overtones.

In the end, the Woggle-Bug is back in the city and in his comfy apartment.  there's no place like home.

The Woggle-Bug Book is one of Baum's lesser-known tales for children, perhaps deservedly so.  Perhaps I'm being overly critical but children's literature in the first part of the last century (and beyond) appears rigidly aimed at white children, promulgating stereotypes that could help society hold down elements that might disrupt it.  Today we can laugh and poo-poo the racist stereotypes of an earlier time, but they were pernicious.  Reading such books helps us to understand the depths of racism and hopefully help us not go down that blighted path.

In the whole context of Baum's Oz books, The Woggle-Bug Book is a very minor and somewhat entertaining adjunct to the series.  Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: DOWN WHERE THE WINDS BLOW

From 1964, The Serendipity Singers.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzoEksbGiTU

THE CISCO KID: THE MEANEST MAN IN ARIZONA

I'll admit that Jack Mather is no Duncan Renaldo and Harry Lang is no Leo Carrillo, but when you need a Cisco Kid fix, but they certainly can do a good job for you.

Saddle up, buckaroos.  From July 26, 1952, here's "The Meanest Man in Arizona."



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07XcreEXu-U

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: SNOOPY VS. THE RED BARON

The Royal Guardsmen with a song about a brave air-beagle and his vendetta against a German ace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxzg_iM-T4E

BAD JOKE WEDNESDAY (MATH DEPT.)

He told his girlfriend she was average because he was mean.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE PAST: TWIST & SHOUT

The Beatles, from The Ed Sullivan Show, February 23, 1964.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-VAxGJdJeQ

OVERLOOKED OATER: THE MONTANA KID (1931)

Bill Cody (1891-1948) -- his actual name; no relation to Buffalo Bill Cody -- starred in a long string of westerns beginning in 1925.  He started out as a stuntman and worked his way up as an actor for 'Poverty Row" B movies.  In between various studio stints Cody toured with a number of wild west shows and circuses.  Beginning in 1934, Cody starred in four westerns with his son Bill, Jr. and he was billed as Bill, Sr. (which could have been confusing for some of his friends because Cody was born William Joseph Cody, Jr. in Manitoba in 1891, which would have made Bill, Sr. a Jr., then what would Bill, Jr. do?)

Andy Shuford was fourteen when he co-starred with Cody in The Montana Kid.  He started his film career as one of Hal Roach's Rascals; his character was never given a name.  Shuford starred with Cody in several "Bill and Andy" oaters.  He left films to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and became a highly decorated pilot.  H left the Air Corps as a colonel but never returned to the movies.

Doris Hill plays the newly-arrived niece of the local marshal because a hero has to get the gal at the end of a flick.  A former vaudeville dancer, Hill began her film career in 1926, appearing opposite such actors as Tim Tyler, George O'Hara, and Syd Chaplin (charlie's half brother).  Her career seemed to going well until she appeared in 1929's His Glorious Night, starring John Gilbert in his first released "talkie."  (There's a long-standing story that Gilbert's voice was so high-pitched and squeaky in this movie that it basically ended his career as a matinee idol.  There is also a story that Louie B. Mayer had technicians speed up the sound on Gilbert's voice to damage his career.  In fact, there was nothing wrong with Gilbert's voice.  The problem lay in poor direction and even worse dialogue.  The audience consistently laughed at the wrong times.  The film flopped as did the careers of those who appeared in it.)  Hill's career staggered on for another five years before she threw in the towel.

In The Montana Kid, Shuford's father is cheated out of his ranch in a crooked card game and is then shot.  All this just as Shuford comes into town to join his father.  Now orphaned, Shuford is taken under Cody's wing as Cody is determined to get the ranch back for the boy.  Plot ensues (or fizzles out, depending on your ability for critical thinking).

The Montana Kid was directed by Harry Fraser, who directed over 80 B movies, most of them westerns, in his career.  Fraser also came up with the original story, but scripting chores went to George A. Durham, a veteran scribe of B westerns.

The film runs just under an hour.  Enjoy.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko7YBhYxCrc&index=23&list=PLeagipoZmyflNWZHS3m3oWPs8D9EdARW4