Saturday, June 27, 2015

If the Pope Was More Like Moe Howard

The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church is carrying a long plank balanced on his shoulder.
The Cardinal Secretary of State calls him.
He turns abruptly.
Whacks the pontiff in the face with the plank.
The Pope closes in on the Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
Goes for an eye poke.
The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church neatly blocks it.
With an outstretched hand laid alongside his nose.
The Pope counters with the two-handed eye poke.
A brilliant maneuver.
Takes three steps backward.
Steps in the Cardinal Secretary of State's paint bucket.
Tries to shake it loose.
It's stuck.
Shoves his mitre (cool Pope hat) down over the Cardinal Secretary of State's eyes.
Gives his ears a good twist.
Tweaks his beak.

My Kindle eBooks

Beyond Belief, edited by Richard Hurley

Beyond Belief
Edited by Richard J. Hurley
Scholastic Book Services (188 pages, $0.45, April 1966)

Given that Scholastic was the publisher of this anthology, it’s probably fair to assume that it was aimed at what was once called the juvenile demographic. I was in that demographic when the 1973 paperback edition was published.

However, as the publishing credits reveal, most of the stories are drawn from SF magazines of prior decades. None of which were geared to juveniles, as far as I’m aware. It’s a mixed bag, as anthologies often are, but for me the ups outweighed the downs by a bit.

Read more at Black Gate.

My Kindle eBooks

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Time the Whore of Babylon Dropped the Kids Off At Soccer Practice

There were a few things she could have done differently.
Like not turning up at the soccer field on a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, and having seven heads and ten horns.
But the Lexus was in the shop for a brake job.
And her outfit - purple and scarlet and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls.
Not everyone can pull that off.
As several of the moms were quick to point out.
And the belly shirt.
Now that was harlotry.
And the golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication and being drunken with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
Sure, they all liked a Margarita or a wine cooler or two.
But that was really a bit much.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Sunset Years of the Star of That Really Popular Cat Video

Miss Tibbles.
An entire wing of the mansion was given over to her some years ago.
Gone to ruin now, drafty and smelling faintly of stale catnip.
Miss Tibbles.
Perches in the dank great room in her tattered red velvet kitty bed.
The grand piano in the corner, mostly unused.
Though just last week she roused herself and ran through a few pieces by Rachmaninoff.
The magic wasn’t there anymore.
Her attendant – Burt – observed.
Though he wouldn’t have dared to say so.
Miss Tibbles.
Yawns, stretches and eyes the silent telephone.
It won’t be much longer.
She’s ready for her close-up.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Movie - Young Sherlock Holmes

Young Sherlock Holmes
Directed by Barry Levinson

So just how did Sherlock Holmes and John Watson get together? I'm no authority on the canon of Holmes but the way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote it differs a good bit from how the makers of Young Sherlock Holmes handled it - something they take pains to note at the end of the film.

But what's a little dramatic license among friends? As the filmmakers would have us believe, young Watson meets young Holmes upon arriving at a new boarding school, where his future pal proceeds to do one of those fancy Sherlock Holmes things and tells him all about himself, based on a few subtle clues.

Which is all well and good and to be expected and if things had proceeded in this fashion I might have stayed on board. But as things moved along the movie began to take on a tone that would have been more suitable to Young Indiana Jones (which came along in the form of a TV series less than a decade later) than Young Sherlock Holmes. There's something of a mystery at the heart of all this, with blow darts that cause people to hallucinate wildly and ultimately end up dead, and an Egyptian cult, but it's more about fast-paced, big-budget action and spectacle than deduction.

Which is fine if you like that sort of thing. I didn't mind and it's certainly a well-made film, though the relentless pace became wearying at times. Much of this can probably be explained by considering some of the principals. They include Steven Spielberg, the executive producer, who had just done his Indiana Jones thing a few years earlier and who was producing another YA adventure flick, The Goonies, in the same year.

Writer Chris Columbus would go on to do Home Alone before too long and later took a crack at some Harry Potter movies. Which not so far removed from what he did here, when you think about it but without all that magic stuff. At first I thought Barry Levinson seemed like an odd choice to direct but the more I thought about it the more it made sense. After all, his big score up to this point had been with Diner, a coming of age tale. Which is not unlike what's done here, although with a lot more action.

To summarize, if you're looking for a good Sherlock Holmes movie you should probably keep looking. If you're looking for a good young-adult adventure movie this should do the trick.

My Kindle eBooks


Casually walking around with a bag of hair.
My hair smells so good.
I love my hair.
Damn my hair smells to good right now.
My hair smells so beautiful n feels like feathers.
I love my hair.
At Walmart today, a lady told me I should be in a Pantene commercial.

My Kindle eBooks

The Murders in the Rue Morgue - 1975

The Murders in the Rue Morgue
CBS Radio Mystery Theater

I've got to confess that The Murders in the Rue Morgue is one of the Poe stories I've never actually gotten around to reading. So when I listened to this adaptation made for the CBS Radio Mystery Theater I didn't really have a frame of reference for what I was hearing. Given that, I had to take said adaption on its own merits, rather than comparing it to the original.

Supposedly one of the first detective stories, it's also a locked room mystery, a subgenre of a subgenre of mystery fiction that never ceases to amaze, amuse and irritate those of us who go for that sort of thing. The killings that take place inside this locked room are fairly gruesome, even by today's more relaxed standards, and one can't help imagining Poe writing splatter films if he'd lived a century and a half later.

Of course, one C. Auguste Dupin steps in to take over the investigation and proceeds to put together a few clues and sort everything out. If you're wondering where Sherlock Holmes got some of his mannerisms and personality traits it wouldn't be unreasonable to start your search here. Not a bad tale, all in all, at least based on what i heard in this adaptation, though I'm still up in the air about whether Poe's choice of killers was brilliant or just plain goofy.

But it's another worthwhile episode from the vast archive of CBS Radio Mystery Theater productions. Hard to believe that they turned out one of these every weekday for about ten years but they did.

My Kindle eBooks

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Last Few Fortune Cookie Messages

Your honored mother has the countenance of an ape.
A prosthetic elbow may be waiting around the next corner.
May your pockets always be filled with sufficient carrion.
Beware of anthropomorphic horses who sing too loudly.
Live this day as though it will be your last. It will.

My Kindle eBooks

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How Immortals Pass the Time

Bob has been immortal for nearly 417 million years.
The young whippersnapper.
But lately time’s been dragging.
So he rounds up some toothpicks and gets to work.
Before long (by immortal standards, that is) he’s built a full-scale replica of the universe.
Complete with galaxies and Pringles and asteroids and Cleveland.
The other immortals can’t help but admire it.
It’s a pretty nifty piece of work, to be sure.
Until the fire.

Dances With Certified Public Accountants

He is naked except for a loincloth. He has fasted for two days, seated on a rock at the edge of the prairie, when a group of conventioning certified public accountants is inexplicably catapulted one hundred thirty years into the past, along with a disc jockey and an open bar.

The accountants dance all night. They do not get out much. He proves to be quite adept at the hokey-pokey. Marv gets drunk and tries to kiss a coyote.

When the sun rises they are gone. He is seated on the rock again.

My Kindle eBooks

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When Homonyms Kill

They slip into the cemetery in the still hour before dawn. They work silently, unsealing the tomb in no time. They take deep breaths, make the sign of the cross and enter.

The air is close and fetid. Two of them slide the heavy lid from the crypt. The other two take their positions. One of them pulls a mallet from his coat. He speaks over his shoulder to the other one.

"The stake."

They look on – aghast - at the choice cut of meat slapped into his palm. There is a stirring in the crypt.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hippy TV - The Mod Squad

Featuring The Other Half, another real-life Sixties band who released one album.

My Kindle eBooks

A Nicer Post-Apocalyptic Kind of Situation

One day everyone suddenly became quite happy.
Then they grew weary.
Then they quietly laid down and died.
And their bodies went up into the sky.
There were a few survivors, of course.
Their lives were disrupted.
But they didn’t wig out much.
They got on with their lives.
Soon some dead people came back from the sky, alive.
Then more and before long all of them.
Eventually things got back to normal.
And the world ended up being a much nicer place.

My Kindle eBooks

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hippy TV - Mannix

Featuring another appearance by the real-life band, The Peppermint Trolley Company

Friday, June 12, 2015

Best Day Ever for Sisyphus

Half an eternity has passed.
Another half to go.
The old buzzard’s been rolling that boulder up the hill.
Only to watch it roll back down again.
Every frigging time.
Yeah, him.
His bursitis is flaring up.
He’s about had it.
When his friend Bob drops by.
As he’s nearing the top of the hill yet again.
Bob disappears into the woods.
Comes back with a small log.
Shoves it under the boulder.
They both step back and contemplate it.
“That oughta hold it,” Bob says.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Kinder Gentler Godzilla

Suddenly, amidst the smoke and flames and screams and clamor of yet another ruined skyscraper, he realizes that the job is no longer fulfilling.
It’s time to follow his bliss.
He leaves right away, skyscraper half-demolished.
Makes his way to Big Sur.
Lives in a small (relatively speaking, of course) cabin in the hills.
Wanders the beaches after high tide.
Before long his driftwood sculptures of kittens are selling at the better gift shops in the region.
And the third anger management class seems to be helping.
Don’t ask about the first two.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Together Again

“Oh, Herm.” Emily fell into his arms. He hugged her hard enough to crush several ribs. It sounded like a bag of chips stuffed under a mattress.

“My darling. I’ve missed you so.” Herm beamed as she stomped on his bare foot, driving her stiletto heel all the way to the floor.

“Not as much as I’ve missed you.” Emily nuzzled his shoulder. He stroked her hair and dug his thumb into her left eye socket, twisting and gouging until he’d worked the bloody orb loose. He ground it under his heel.

Herm led her to the kitchen. “I’ve been saving this for your return. I never imagined it would be so soon.”

He poured two glasses of champagne and proceeded to bash her with the bottle until her face was a mass of bloody pulp.

“I couldn’t stand to be without you another minute.” She rammed a butcher knife into his lower abdomen, jerked upward and stepped aside as his intestines fell out, slopping on the floor.

“What about your job?” Herm asked, driving a ten-inch long spike into her head.

“I told them I’d quit if I had to, but I had to come home and see you.”

She smiled, kissing him gently and tearing large chunks of flesh from his face and upper body with her teeth.

“I’m glad you did.” He tore her arm off and bludgeoned her with it. “Its so good to have you back.”

He ripped out her still beating heart and flung it on the ground. The dog carried it into a corner and gnawed it. He drew her close. She emptied a can of turpentine over his head and lit it. They melted into each other’s arms. Her gaze locked with his.

“I’m so glad we’re together again.”

Hippy TV - The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Every Mother's Son, who scored with the hit "Come on Down to My Boat," play in the midst of a knockdown, drag out brawl.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hippy TV - The Flying Nun

Another real-life band, who got their start in the Sixties. The Sundowners in an appearance on The Flying Nun.

Hippy TV - My Mother the Car

Featuring The Spats, a real-life band who hailed from Southern California.

Connoisseur’s Science Fiction, edited by Tom Boardman

Connoisseur’s Science Fiction
Edited by Tom Boardman
Penguin Books (234 pages, $0.95, 1966)

It’s a small world. The last story in the last anthology I read (Other Dimensions, edited by Robert Silverberg) was “Disappearing Act,” by Alfred Bester. The next book I read was this one, and the first story therein was “Disappearing Act,” by Alfred Bester. How do you like that? In any event, I didn’t read it again, but copied my remarks from the review at my site to this one.

Read more at Black Gate

One Arthurian Film to Rule Them All

One Arthurian Film to Rule Them All
by William I. Lengeman III

I’m trying to suggest a kind of Middle Earth, in Tolkien terms. It’s a contiguous world; it’s like ours but different.
– John Boorman, on Excalibur

As I began poking around into the history of Arthurian film adaptations, I was surprised to find a lot less of this sort of thing than I was expecting.

Good old Wikipedia lists 36 “relatively straightforward adaptations” made between 1904 and 2009. Many of these are rather obscure, to say the least, and quite a few deal with tangential aspects of the core legend, such as the stories of Arthurian knights, Parsifal, Launcelot, Gawain, and Galahad.

Read more at Black Gate


Nick Radicks double-parked his battered Buick Regal. He lit a cigarette and walked into the coffee shop, ignoring the No Smoking sign. Benny the Rat slithered into the booth across from him, glancing around nervously.

“Whaddya got?” Nick was cool as an icebox. He blew three perfectly formed smoke rings at the ceiling.

“Whaddya got for me?”

“A size eleven boot. I’ll put it up your ass.”

“Okay, okay.” Benny leaned forward. “Your stiff was connected. Word is he made some people mad, so they set him up for a big fall.”

“So he’s connected. Why didn’t his guys fix it?”

“Dunno. He hooked up with a guy named King. Heavy hitter, but unfortunately for the stiff it came down from on high. When it started to go down, King and his guys couldn’t do anything to put it back together.”

Nick dropped his cigarette in his coffee. He pulled out his wallet and peeled off two twenties.

“Got a name?”

Benny snatched the bills.

“Dumpty. Didn’t get the first name.”

Friday, June 5, 2015

Here Be Dragons (and Lattes)

Bob (who began spelling his name backward a few years ago, after twisting his ankle) grabbed his coffee. He headed for the exit, passing a rainforest mural he’d seen hundreds of times. He mused at how realistic it seemed, with a balmy breeze wafting forth. How odd.

He looked around. No one seemed to notice. Presumably they didn’t notice the dragon either. Which whipped out its long prehensile tongue and snapped the coffee from his hand. Without spilling a drop, it should be noted. It gobbled it up in an instant (including the eco-friendly, free-range, hypo-allergenic cup made from organic, gluten-free hemp by a reclusive tribe of hippies who live in a remote area of the coast of northern California and who collectively spent more years following the Grateful Dead than would be considered average). And just as quickly spewed him with a mix of mediocre, overpriced coffee and dragon spit.

It shouldn’t have surprised him that much more when the dragon spoke and indeed, it did not.

“Hazelnut,” The dragon snarled. “How can anyone drink that crap?”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

In the Workplace of the Immortals

“Congratulations, Bob.”
“On what?”
“On being with the company 21,417 years.”
“Sez who?”
“Says the email that went out this morning. Didn’t you see it?”
“Apparently not.”
“I guess I can retire soon.”
Uproarious laughter. Followed by somber realization. Followed by uncomfortable silence.