Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Western Roundup

2012 contained The Summer of Westerns for me. Toiling away at what-shall-remain-a-nameless-insurance-company by day and working on my writing / editing by night left me looking for escape. Thanks to some on-line recommendations I started reading old paperback westerns.

In no particular order here is the list of novels I devoured:

A Noose for the Desperado by Clifton Adams - 1951
The Man who Killed the Marshall by Ray Hogan - 1969
Ride the Red Trail by Lewis B. Patten – collected pulp stories 1953
The Lone Gun by Howard Rigsby - 1955
Buchanan Gets Mad by Jonas Ward - 1958
Wyoming Jones by Richard Telfair - 1958
The Two-Shoot Gun by Donald Hamilton - 1960
The Cage by Talmage Powell - 1967
Outlaw Marshall by Ray Hogan - 1959
The Last Days of Wolf Garnett by Clifton Adams - 1970
Blood Justice by Gordon D. Shirreffs - 1964
Vengeance Trail by Archie Joscelyn - 1951
Vengeance Rider by Lewis B. Patten - 1962
.44 by H.A. DeRosso - 1953
The Reformed Gun by Marvin Albert - 1959
Man Outgunned by Lewis B. Patten - 1976
The Man From Riondo by Dudley Dean - 1954
Ramrod Rider by T.V. Olsen -1961
The Ruthless Range by Lewis B. Patten - 1963

While some of the above novels were better than others, I can honestly say there was not a bad book in the batch. Most were published in the 50s and 60s and for an average of a dollar a book, I got a bang for my dollars. I also got to discover some new writers (new to me!) that I will definitely be on the lookout for in my used-bookstore trawls.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Retro Soap

The Inheritors by Harold Robbins, Pocket Books, February 1971

As a kid growing up in Florida I’d spend almost every day of my summers at the neighborhood swimming club. There were two swimming pools; one for families and one for adults. The family swimming pool was almost always crowded with teenagers and tots and, for all the kids under the age of twelve, mothers stuck with the duty of accompanying them while their husbands ogled firm, nubile, brightly bikinied over-21-year-old bodies over in the adults-only pool. Ever the observant little shit that I was, I noticed that plenty of these mothers carried in their beach bags thick paperback books along with their suntan oil, beach towels, cigarettes and sunglasses. And almost every day I’d notice the same name on these paperbacks: Harold Robbins.

I’d guess that the last time I’ve seen anyone reading a Harold Robbins novel was somewhere around the time one could still smoke cigarettes inside a shopping mall, or wear a mood ring. For all his immense popularity then, Harold Robbins’s books seem forgotten today. Something to consider when wading through the glut of novels by the Janet Evanovitch, Nicholas Sparks, and “50-Shades-plus” gang over-stocking the bookstore shelves now.

Over the past couple decades I’ve sampled a few Robbins novels and have found them to be, for the most part, horribly written, frequently boring and surprisingly light on the kinky sex stuff that he’s famous for. Perhaps I’ve not read the “right” novels by him. There had to be something that the public got from his novels.

The other day I found three of his titles; 79 Park Avenue, Never Leave Me, and The Inheritors, on sale at the library book shop. Liking the vintage covers, I picked them up for the price of a buck and a half.

The Inheritors is the story of two mavericks in the entertainment biz back in the mid-1950s and follows them through to the 1960s. Steve, an upstart go-getter, lands a job as president of Sinclair Television by insulting the company’s founder and owner in a ridiculous job interview, where he goes on to admit he’s also screwing the owner’s daughter. Sam is a publicity hound for a low-rung studio producing movies appealing to the grind house theaters along 42nd Street. Together, these two gentlemen take the burgeoning television industry and Hollywood movie studios into the 1960’s while consuming boatloads of scotch and Martinis. The women in their lives serve mainly as props to provide drinks, have sex with, dump, slap, throw tantrums and use only for the purposes of furthering careers. A typical compliment for a woman in the novel is “Good girl,” or “Nice ass,” or something like that. I can’t for the life of me see what would attract female readers to novels like this but the sales numbers don’t lie. As for the sex, something Robbins was notorious for, the scenes here are pretty tame. I understand they got crazier and more over-the-top as his career stretched into the 70s and 80s, but here they’re pretty short and almost quaint. There is a kinky orgy scene with acid heads, hippies and junkies later in the novel, but its shock value is diminished when one of the characters is shown offering a joint, saying, “Light up and turn on.”

For its faults, The Inheritors was much better than The Adventurers and Where Love has Gone, the only other Robbins novels I’ve read. It was entertaining the way a prime time soap opera like Revenge is. So, if you’re in the mood for some retro pot-boiler action, maybe Robbins will fit the bill. Just don’t expect your brain to go along for the ride.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Blame it on Mary-Anne

Oh wow...I’m so glad I found this song again! This was the 1st 45 record I ever owned, thanks to my mom who picked it along with a portable record player of my own. I was in first grade and up to this point I had only a couple long  players of children’s stories like Jack & the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, and Pinocchio to name a few, that I could only listen to on my dad’s hi-fi. I think they got tired of my asking them to play records on it and decided to get my own record player.
“Mary-Anne with the Shaky Hands” appears on THE WHO SELL OUT, and was released on the Decca label in this different version as the flipside to “I Can See for Miles.”  Much as I loved “I Can See for Miles” I played “Mary-Anne” way more often, and credit this song (and “Miles”) for kick-starting my love for rock music, nice and loud, with just the right amount of pop to it. Years later when I got to see The Who play at Tampa Stadium they played this song, much to my delight. I’m sure my mom has no memory of getting me this record, but I sure do. I’ve long since lost the single 45 of Miles/Mary along with a lot of my stuff from childhood. But I do own the LP, THE WHO SELL OUT, which it appears on in its more acoustic version.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Gravity's Rainbow byThomas Pynchon - 1973 - Bantam

I’m in 10th grade and see the book on the shelf at Maida’s Used Books, thick paperback, golden spine, name and author. I pull it out and look at the back cover. "Fantastic", "Dazzling", "Brilliant", "Tremendous", but nothing telling me what the book is about. The first line is a grabber, okay, but what’s the book about? I open it randomly and read a passage where a guy squeezes a certain Jessica Swanlake through her damp knickers and think, okay I can maybe get into this, and take the book home with me.

Later I realize, somewhat to my consternation, that there is a whole lot of white noise to wade through to get to that babe with her damp knickers, and I’m not sure I want to bother. I put the book down and decide to read NORTH DALLAS FORTY instead. But then my English teacher, Mr. Patterson, unkempt in his wrinkled sport coat and long black hair, sees GR among my jumble of textbooks. “Kurt! You’re reading that book? Heh heh heh…”

“I guess so,” I tell him. “I just started it. What’s it about anyway.”

Patterson gives me a look like something made it worthwhile to come in that day and face his bored and listless students after all.  “Just read it,” he says with his Hollywood smirk.

Years later, I’m TDY in Germany and drinking in a discotheque in Bremerhaven, checking out a woman with a shaved head at the bar near me. I’ve been separated from my comrades and I’m alone in this place with music something a lot like Kraftwerk loud all around me before Der Schprokets brought them to Saturday nights in America, and much preferable to Laura Branigan’s “Self Control” that is heard multiple times at every club we go to. I glance at the woman with the shaved head, fuzzily aware that I can’t do anything about it without knowing more than a few words in German, to the shame of my ancestors, when a pretty young woman approaches me and asks if I’m American. Immediately my defenses are heightened, envisioning a drunken American rolled of his money in an alleyway because of the lure of a Cute German Girl but I know that denying it would be futile. “Yeah, I’m American,” I tell her. “It’s that obvious?”

The Cute German Girl invites me to join her and her friends, one of whom is also an American. I like the way her dark hair sweeps down her shoulders and her dusky eyes (no, not really Bette Davis Eyes but sleepless and slatternly and she could be a spy regardless) and follow her. Her American friend is some hipster from New York, and we talk about American shit as I think of ways I could make it with the Cute German Girl next to me. Hours pass and we part the night as best friends who will never meet again and saddened by the loss of the Cute German Girl to the night I hail a cab and say “Luftwaffe, bitte...” The cabbie nods his head and says “Drei Funf” (with Umlauts) and we roll.

Back in the barracks I pull GR out of my duffle and try reading, but can’t concentrate while thinking of the Cute German Girl and her dusky eyes, Kraftwerk, bald chicks, beer, nocturnal emissions at La Club Femina and the touch of a dewy female thigh under the spinning lights as “Self Control” spins yet again, and I barely make to the porcelain plates for toilets to spew foamy beer, bratwurst and Pommes Frites mit Mayo against it, splashing tiles and porcelain like that cow in Texas pissing on a flat rock. I wipe my mouth and flush twice because it’s a long way to England and stagger back to my bunk, dreaming about the Cute German Girl kissing me goodbye beside the incomprehensible graffiti on the wall at my back before turning her dusky eyes away, and my book falls on the floor next to my bunk, ignored and rejected once again...

At FSU my senior year in English and my professor is the same Douglas Fowler who wrote The Guide to Gravity’s Rainbow and I’m thinking, shit, I’ve got to read GR after all, and write a 5000 word essay on it and be tested on it and I don’t think he’s going to give a tinker’s damn about my Jessica Swanlake fantasies spun out into reveries about Cute German Girls with dusky eyes and the back of my trench coat stenciled with graffiti in reverse, but it turns out that we’ll be reading THE CRYING OF LOT 49 instead. Not a problem, I can put that baby down in an afternoon and still be ready for beer and wings at Bullwinkles where maybe I’ll catch that little blond twist from my Chaucer class into a moonlight dance.

So years go by, not measured in coffee spoons but in cigarette butts and midnight stints as a hotel dick in Scottsdale, psychotic girlfriends, corporate whiners, layoffs, spreadsheets, year-end closes, 3AM airports and dirty buses and trips to Germany, and that goddamn book still sits on the shelf when I finally take it down one afternoon after turning 50 and notice my scrawl at age 16 still there on the first page. The one I wrote so long ago in anticipation of a good dirty read about WACs with wet knickers.

I finish GR at last, this thick friend now faded and furry from 35 years of neglected companionship, but waiting for me regardless from bookshelves to duffle bags, smelling the beer and the bongs and the discount perfumed bedsheets and dirty laundry and burnt mac ‘n cheese and desperation, elation, failure and success, it waited for consummation at last, and I wonder what my old high school English teacher, Mr. Patterson, would say now that his once greasy black hair has turned snow white with his black eyes peering out beneath albino caterpillars. He’d probably give me that Jack Nicholson sneer he does so well and say “Jesus, Kurt. What took you so long?”

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cool Books - Used

Some interesting finds in a couple used bookstores. The first set are two paperbacks by Chester Himes published in the 70's by Signet.

I love the covers. I hadn't seen these editions before but I wasn't about to leave the bookstore without snapping them up. Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones are getting some seventies makeovers for these editions. Looking forward to reading them. For Love of Imabelle is also known as A Rage in Harlem.

The next couple are more on the trashy side, but for a buck each I didn't mind picking them up.

The Cannibals from 1968 (Avon Books) is Keefe Brasselle's insider portrait of the entertainment industry. It's touted as shocking and all that. Lots of teaser blurbs inside full of hype and hysteria. The back of the cover proclaims it as "The most talked about novel of the decade" but I'd not heard of it before. Too bad the cover is worn. The Barracudas was published in 1973 (Avon Books) and comes without any hype at all. It seems pretty much ignored as of today. Oh well, I love its cover with that ponce smoking a cigar studying that dish's backside as she makes some sort of appointment over the phone. Should be good trashy fun.

Last for this group is a Rock & Roll novel from 1974 (Avon Books). Rock & Roll Retreat Blues by Douglas Kent Hall.

I had an English professor from FSU (back in the 80's) state that there has never been a good novel about Rock written yet. Ever. Whether or not he knew of this book I'll never know. The back description mentions plastic motels, Plaster Casters, "willing, glittering groupies," "mind-altering drugs," Hells Angels and a mad bomber. Sounds like all the right ingredients to me. Plus I kind of dig that psychedelic cover, to boot. We'll see how it turns out.

In the meantime, I still have to get through Gravity's Rainbow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Found a Peanut, one day....Thee Midniters

I’m the first to admit that I can’t spell for beans, but that’s the real name of a terrific mid-sixties garage rock band from East L.A. Thee Midniters could pretty much do it all; surf, rave-ups, soul, rock and you get the idea. Apparently, early in their career they’d wear Lone Ranger masks when performing and throw them to the girls in the crowd. I have no idea what the girls would throw back at them in return.
The lineup changed a bit through their career and included Little Willie G., Larry Rendon, Benny Caballos, Little Ray Jimenez, George Dominguez, Roy Marquez, Ronny Figueroa, Romeo Prado, George Salazar and Benny Lopez, in addition to later members Danny La Mont and Jimmy Espinoza.
There is a killer live version of “Land of a Thousand Dances” they do that I would recommend checking out if you’re so inclined. They had a regional hit with the terrific “Whittier Blvd.” that you may have heard, or not if you’re only glued to commercial radio. I got introduced to Thee Midniters through one of the numerous garage rock compilations I’ve picked up over the years. Later on, I was happy to find IN THEE MIDNITE HOUR!!! CD from Norton Records, exclusively of Thee Midniters songs including the ones mentioned above. Here is “I Found a Peanut” for your pleasure. It’s got a weird vocal about what happens after eating that strange peanut you found. You’ll have this one stuck in your head later, trust me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Big Little Books

When I was a kid I had a small collection of these Big Little Books from Whitman Publishing Company, published in the 60's. This one had to be my favorite, since it's the one I have the clearest memory of.

Dick Tracy Encounters Facey - 1967 Whitman Publishing Company
I vaguely remember that Facey was a master of disguises, and that he robbed either banks or jewelry stores. These were cool little hardback books that I'd look at over and over. Each page had a color plate detailing the action, with the text on the opposite page. They were tiny in size, but thick in page count. I had one for Tom & Jerry, The Lone Ranger, Fantastic Four, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, and Major Matt Mason, in addition to some others. By the time I was in the 6th grade my collection of Big Little Books were long gone to that great dust pile of collectibles out of our reach. Later, in the late 70's I remember seeing paperback versions of BLBs, and no longer in color, which I thought sucked. Every now and then I see the hardback BLBs from the 60's in antique stores, usually for inflated prices. Or at least prices higher than I'd be willing to pay. Too bad they don't still make these books for kids. I think they'd still like them.

The Fantastic Four in the House of Horrors - 1968 Whitman Publishing Company

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tropical Noir

Signet Books - September 1962
A Very Private Island by Z.Z. Smith contains one of those preposterous scenarios that can only seem to happen in noir fiction. Rogue drifter Walter Brent has a habit of getting into trouble with women. He's on the run to Mexico and is passing through Houston when he witnesses a murder in a darkened alley. The killer turns out to be millionaire David Warren. Warren isn't too eager to have a witness running around loose, but doesn't have the stomach for another killing on his conscience. Instead, he forces Walter, at gunpoint, to drive with him to Corpus Christi where they board Warren's private boat and take it to Warren's private island he calls Mi Tierra.

Warren has decked out Mi Tierra with the latest in modern conveniences, the finest liquors, cigars, books, music, you name it. It also comes with a personal servant, Isaac on hand to keep things running while Warren is away. Warren tells Walter that he will remain on Mi Tierra as a permanent guest until one of them dies first. Walter makes a couple fruitless attempts to escape the island but quickly discovers that his chances of getting back to the mainland without a boat are impossible. And so things go for awhile. It's not a bad life; prisoner on a lush island surrounded by luxury, but Walter is used to having a babe around to keep his bed warm at night. He's soon so torqued up that he's nearly out of his mind. Enter...David Warren's niece, Sally Parmer. Sally has decided to show up on Mi Tierra to get over the grief of recently losing her husband to murder.

Sally is one of those frigid flame type of dames who ignite their men slowly. It doesn't take long for the lust to boil over on Walter's part. Only Sally seems oblivious to his intentions, at first. Then, things get twisted.

This was the sort of novel I grew up on after graduating from The Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators books. Tawdry paperbacks with creased covers, that smell like cigarettes. I loved them then, and I love them now. And this one by Z.Z. Smith is a fine example of that kind of book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Garage Classic - The Soul Shakers

Here is a cool tune from 1966, "It Really Works" (Patterson - Thomas, Bo Mac Music, BMI) performed by The Soul Shakers. It was recorded in 1966 for Ace label. The flipside is "Catch That Girl" which is another cool tune. I like this one though because, to my ears, there is a definite Brian Wilson feel vibe going on here. Plus the drumming is terrific.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Trouble with Blonde Ice

Assignment - Stella Marni is the fourth entry in the long running spy novel series featuring CIA agent Sam Durell, and the first one in the series I've read. Over the years I've run across many of these Edward S. Aarons novels in used bookstores without ever giving one a chance.

Assignment - Stella Marni, 1957 Fawcett Publications, Inc.
I'm not sure why it took me so long to read a Sam Durell novel, but am glad I finally did. I wanted to go with an early one to get a feel for the character at the outset of a series, and typically like the 1950's settings with these older novels. Plus, I liked the cover for this one a lot. Who wouldn't? One look at this beauty and you know that trouble is right around the corner.

The novel is really more of a mystery disguised as a Cold War caper. Someone has been forcing Eastern European refugees to renounce their new way of life in America for safe return to their home country, in this case, Hungary. This is cause for a big time fail for the American propaganda machine, not to mention an embarrassment to the cause, but not exactly James Bond stuff to make a reader pant with anticipation. Hence, the blonde babe on the cover.

The novel begins with Sam Durell asked by a fellow CIA operative Art Greenwald to look into the background of Stella Marni, the latest person wishing to publicly renounce her citizenship and return to her homeland. It seems Art's brother, Frank Greenwald, has flipped head over heels for Stella and may be throwing his life away for a poisoned apple. Durell agrees to investigate Stella, knowing that he's out of his jurisdiction and authority to do so. It quickly turns out that Art's misgivings about Stella is right. In short order, Frank is found brutally murdered. Art is also attacked and left barely clinging to life, while Stella has disappeared along with rogue FBI agent Harry Blossom, who has apparently gone native in his obsession for Stella. Durell soon learns the hard way that anyone who steps into Stella's web ends up in a bad way.

It's clear that Aarons knew how to the keep the pace brisk, and the action tight. There's plenty of action and gore along with liberal doses of sexual obsession and deadly games. Things did not spin wildly out of control as sometimes they do in spy capers, nor is one's suspension of disbelief too sorely tested. There are moments here and there that the novel shows its age, but that comes with the territory. So, all in all, it looks like I've found a new series to get into with this one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New! Improved!

One from the vinyl vaults that I like to put on the turntable now and again is Blue Cheer's 3rd album, New! Improved! Blue Cheer, released in 1969 on Philips Records.

This record represents a change of line-up for the band, with the departure of guitarist Leigh Stephens for Randy Holden and Bruce Stephens taking over guitar duties. In a sense, the record is one of two bands, with all of Randy Holden's tracks on side two and Bruce Stephens on side one. Randy Holden's tenure with the band was a short one, lasting about a year and represented on only three tracks on this album. Two of those tracks are Blue Cheer classics, written and sung by Holden, with long, sonic solos on both. Side one is pretty good too, much more polished than the "Summertime Blues" sound on Vincebus Eruptum. Holden wasn't particularly happy with his time in the band however, feeling that the band's chaotic lifestyle and drug dependencies left little to no time for it to rehearse and work together as a cohesive unit. Blue Cheer would go on to make more records and tour without Randy Holden.

I got my copy used a couple years back. It's clear by the cover that it had a long history sharing space with any manner of bongs, beer, cigarettes and shag carpeting. Still, the vinyl inside is in fine shape and sounds great. Attached is their take on a Bob Dylan classic with Dick Peterson, Paul Whaley, Bruce Stephens and Burns Kellogg in the line-up.

Back cover for my copy, tape and all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Noose in Hell

"She had washed the blood off her face but she was still a long way from being a beauty. Her face was swollen, her lips were split and puffed all out of shape. But she had found a clean blouse from somewhere to replace the one I had torn off her - and in her hands she had a bottle of whisky."

 Copyright 1951 Fawcett World Library - 3rd Printing Jan 1964

The above passage reads like it could be from any one of dozens of Gold Medal noirs from the 1950's. Clifton Adams's terrific noir western, A Noose for the Desperado is as bleak and fevered as any of the best of the noir classics. I've read a couple of Adams's westerns and all of them were good. I'm sure at some point they'll get a spotlight in TRF, but today it's this dusty gem. The story is a sequel to The Desperado, which I have not read. There isn't a real need to have read that one to enjoy Noose anyway as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps Tall Cameron would be more of a sympathetic character with the first novel's background to go from, but here he's someone right out Jim Thompsonville as a man completely unhinged by violence and bloodshed. He trusts no one and will sell his very soul to maintain his freedom from the lawmen and outlaws gunning for him, all stemming from a murder in self defense. Tall hooks up with another rider by the name of Bama, whose stark outlook on life is kept drowned in whisky. They both get involved in a plot to raid a smuggling party south of the Arizona border. No one is trustworthy, and life isn't worth a spent slug in the desert south of Ocotillo. If you like crime, noir and westerns, you'll like this one. It's not too hard to find in used bookstores or online, and is well worth the hunt, pardner.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Back from New Orleans

I've been neglecting things at TRF for the past week as we've done a quickie vacation to New Orleans. Had a great time there and got to check out some cool bars and restaurants. Also took in a "haunted tour" of the French Quarter, where I learned that I resemble a ghost of a confederate soldier who hung himself instead of facing torture at the rack. Went on a tour of some plantations, which is not my thing so much, but interesting. Walked the Garden district and checked out the mansions, dined on some porkbelly at Herbsaint. Dodged revellers on Bourbon St. after the Saints beat the Falcons. . .well, dodged most of them anyway. I did let a scantily clad babe with a black and gold bodypainted fleur-di-lis across her bare chest run drunkenly into me. Had grilled oysters at the ACME Oyster House. Also discovered a new (new to me!) cocktail called a Sazerac, which is a combination of rye, simple syrup, absinthe and bitters, garnished with a twist of lemon. It was a fun trip, but it's nice to be back home, without mentioning that drudgery known as my day job.

Sazerac on my first night
Remains of dinner on my last night

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

"a flying gas..."

A record I've been getting into more and more lately is Incredible Kaleidoscope by The Kaleidoscope on Epic Records from 1969. The album is composed of only 7 songs, culminating in the 12 minute epic "kitchen sink" instrumental "Seven-Ate Sweet". This was their third album and a nice showcase for their amazing blend of influences - folk, Eastern, blues, blue grass, psychedelic rock - you name it. The lineup on this record include: David Lindley (guitar, violin, banjo and vocals), Soloman Feldthouse (guitar, oud, clarinet, caz, jumbus, vocals and feet) say what?, Templeton Parcely (violin, organ and vocal), Stuart Brotman( bass, vocal), Paul Lagos (drums, vocal), along with a guest artist, Max Buda on harmonica. All in all, it's an entertaining record and like the blurb says above, a flying gas. Attached is "Cuckoo" which is the first song on side two. Enjoy.

As a blurb in the liner notes say, ". . . has never been hastily ushered from hysterical mobs." TeenSet

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

He's Deadly - He's Daring - He's Dynamite!

No, not that guy running for public office (insert whatever name you want here) whose attack ads make you insane. Instead, we're talking about Cabot Cain, "the deadliest vice-avenger of all time" as quoted from the cover of Assault on Kolchak by Alan Caillou, the first of six Cabot Cain adventures, published in 1969.

Avon Books - 1969

I picked this paperback up at a used bookstore for a dollar. I knew nothing about the author, Alan Caillou, nor the character from the cover, Cabot Cain. Instead, I grabbed it purely from the crazy cover, especially with that wild psychedelic tie flying over his shoulder, probably just before he's about to kick some Nazi bastard's throat in. One of the things I learned about our six-and-a-half foot hero Cabot Cain, is that he doesn't carry a gun. He prefers to work with his hands. That and he's a martial arts expert and all-around genius.

For example, in an early scene in the novel Cain is presented with a magnificent Hungarian necklace from the 16th century. After looking at it for a moment he recognizes it as part of a collection from King Ulaszlo the 2nd, and that the collection of jewelled pieces from which the necklace is from had been been broken up some two hundred years ago. When his client comments on Cain's remarkable knowledge of obscure Hungarian history, Cain simply replies that it's all on record for anyone who bothers to read. Oh, and he identifies a fake jewel by its chemical compound. Nifty trick, that.

But I'm sort of getting ahead of myself here. The plot of the novel involves these missing jewels, stolen from the Zrinyi family during World War II when their palace was occupied and looted by Nazi's. Now, some twenty five years have passed, and pieces of the Zrinyi collection are finding their way into the black market. Cain is hired to retrieve the rest of the collection, and assassinate the man responsible for the crimes inflicted on Zrinyi family, the evil and twisted Vladimir Kolchak. It seems that Kolchak has also left his mark on the Zrinyi family by siring the beautiful Leda Zrinyi after raping her mother. It is assumed that Kolchak, having disappeared after the war, is in hiding somewhere in South America and is maintaining his living standards by selling off his ill-gotten gains. With this all quickly established in the first few chapters, the adventure begins.

Eventually Cain finds Kolchak, in a mountain fortress in Brazil. Kolchak is as vile as ever, having surrounded himself with luxury, wealth and a small private army of willing soldiers and assassins ready to follow his command. He's also got a sadistic kinky streak a mile wide. One he's all too ready to use once he discovers his own daughter, Leda, is in Cain's corner. Cain's got his hands full on this assignment.

I really enjoyed this novel by Alan Caillou. At first Cain might come across as a bit of a pompous arse, but you quickly get to like the guy and root for him. His obvious talents are usually described with a neat dose of irony. In one instance, after swimming part of the Amazon, clearing jungle traps, and climbing the side of a cliff, Cain tells us he's out of breath, and that he must make a point of keeping himself in better shape. No kidding! And Cain often refers to a bit of arcane knowledge in his grasp from when he taught just such a subject at Stanford, or Oxford, or some such place. And the action is plentiful, as is the suspense, I found myself reading each chapter looking forward to what came next. All in all, it was a pretty fun read. Enough so that I went back to that old bookstore and snapped up the rest of the Cabot Cain novels they had. Good find!


Saturday, November 3, 2012


In an earlier post I showed a couple of covers for some old Creepy and Eerie magazines I have. One of the artists mentioned was Sanjulian and at the time of that post I knew pretty much nothing about him. Well, the other night as I was posted on Halloween duty, handing out candy to the neighborhood's little monsters, I happened to be thumbing through Eerie #53 when I came across a profile of Sanjulian. I thought I would share it here.

Sanjulian - Buck Blaster and Thelma Starburst - Eerie #76 
Sanjulian was born in Barcelona and by the age of 16 began working at the publicity offices of 20th Century Fox, painting billboards for movies among other promotional duties. It was during this time of his life that he decided to dedicate his talents to become a painter. He attended the Superior School of Art in San Jorge, Spain. His art later would be seen in galleries throughout Spain, then onto the paperback book covers for Dell, Avon and Signet to name a few. His first cover work for Warren Magazines, according to the profile, was for Vampirella #12.

Sanjulian - Vampirella #12 - Warren Magazines

At the time of the profile referred to from my issue of Eerie magazine (January 1974 - Eerie #53) Sanjulian had painted almost 25 covers for Warren Magazines issues of Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. As anyone can see in the examples above, Sanjulian's work is one of the reasons why these old magazines and paperbacks from that time are so cool. I thought it would be fun to add what I'd read about Sanjulian to the blog. I'm sure there is plenty more that could be added to the little bit I have here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Surfing at Midnight

More Misfits for you surf fans. This one is brought to you by The Crimson Ghosts from their 2006 CD, Some Kinda Hits. This is one of my favorite Misfits songs, "I Turned into a Martian" from their "Walk Among Us" album It's going on the player tonight while we hand out the sticky candy to the little monsters among us. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eyeball in your Martini?

Here, for your listening pleasure is the Misfit's classic "Some Kinda Hate" as performed by the Nutley Brass, from their CD, Misfits Meet the Nutley Brass - Fiend Club Lounge. This is another disk that makes it to the rotation around this time every year. The song is short, so drop that cigarette, put the drink down and ask that kitten in furs to dance already...

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Favorite Horror Novel

Okay, it would be more honest to say it's one of my favorite horror novels. I've got other favorites and all of them will get their moment to shine from the shadows. But I thought I would put this one out there first, because it combines two of my favorite genres better than anything else out there that I've yet to read.

Falling Angel - William Hjortsberg - Fawcett Popular Library - 1982
I'd first heard of this novel from an essay by Stephen King, way back in the early 80's. Falling Angel  by William Hjortsberg was published in 1978 and I don't know how the hell I missed it, considering how much of a horror fan I was back then. I didn't get my mitts on it until around 1984 and it immediately hit me in the gut. Yes, better than The Stand, better than Ghost Story, which are both excellent books. Stephen King gave it the best quickie description in saying that it was like Raymond Chandler crossed with The Exorcist. He's right. I was a huge Chandler fan and had read all of his novels by that point. Hjortsberg's Harry Angel was a bit like Phillip Marlowe, only edgier, darker, and as the novel progressed it became all to clear just how much darker.

But more than just its hard-boiled style, which I'm always a sucker for, Falling Angel is also about setting. It's New York in the 1950's. Central Park, Coney Island, Harlem, subways, voodoo rituals, Black Mass ceremonies, they all play a role in private eye Harry Angel's search for missing crooner Johnny Favorite. It's the kind of novel that you'll read the first 20 pages of and then it's too late, you're hooked for the full ride.

Most people are probably more familiar with the movie with Mickey Rourke, which was a decent flick. But as perfect as Rourke was in the role, the movie came up short by going south, instead of keeping it all in New York as the novel did. If you've seen the movie, which I haven't mentioned by name, you might think that skipping Hjortsberg's novel is fine. I can only say that if you're a horror fan, a noir fan, a mystery fan, whatever, read it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Classic Pulps - Weird Tales October 1933

Weird Tales - October 1933

Keeping with the season I thought I'd spotlight an issue of one of the best and longest running pulps ever, Weird Tales. The cover art is by Margaret Brundage, titled, appropriately enough, "Bat Girl". This is probably one of the better known pulp covers of Weird Tales. I have an old paperback anthology entitled Worlds of Weird published by Jove in 1978 with the same cover as above. This issue of Weird Tales is a good one. In it you've got a Conan story "The Pool of the Black One" by Robert E. Howard. Also a crazy sci-fi tale of zombies on the planet Pluto entitled "The Plutonian Terror" by Jack Williamson. Clark Ashton Smith makes one of his many appearances with "The Seed of the Sepulcher" about a "diabolical" plant in the jungles of Venezuela. The cover story is "The Vampire Master" by Hugh Davidson, someone whose work I'm not familiar with, outside the story here. Also included are stories by Seabury Quinn and Frank Belknap Long, very familiar names to pulp fans, and whose work you can find fairly easily to this day. The cool thing about these old pulps is that they're finding new life for today's fans. If you want a reprint of this particular issue you can order one, like I did, throught The Vintage Library.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Last night Julie and I went to the PoeFest on Grand Avenue and saw presentations of "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Cask of Amontillado," and "The Raven." The PoeFest is presented by Arizona Curriculum Theater and performed at Soul Invictus.

The stories are performed solo, as the audience visits an asylum where the characters tell you their tales, all delivered in Poe's words. Performances change with each show, so you might see "House of Usher" or "The Black Cat" or "The Tell-Tale Heart." We thought it was a lot of fun and a cool way to celebrate the Halloween season. This is the 4th year that Arizona Curriculum Theater as put this on. All the money and proceeds go to promote literacy, engage students and making education a prime goal within our state.

The theater is small, located on 11th Avenue and Grand. Performances will run through to Halloween. So if you're in Phoenix and Edgar Allen Poe is your thing and you feel like supporting a worthy cause then check it out.

Friday, October 26, 2012

El Santo - The Legend

Santo en la venganza de la momia - 1970
My first exposure to Santo was when I was stationed in California back in the early 80's. I'd catch a few minutes of these movies on the independent stations from L.A. and was immediately intrigued. I'd grown up in Florida and was all too familiar with professional wrestling, masked and otherwise, and of course ate up anything that had to do with horror movies. But combining the two - pure genius!

Santo was Rodolfo Guzman Huerta and his wrestling career ran from the 1930's clear in to the 1980's. He starred in more than 50 lucha libre movies, of which I've only seen 4 in their entirety, including the one above, Santo en la venganza de la momia. I've got a long list to catch up on. Clearly Santo is the hero of the films, battling everything from vampire women, monsters, martians, pirates, evil scientists, gangsters and heels. You name it, he'll take them on in the name of justice. His movie adventures began in 1958 with Santo contra el cerebro del mal and continued until his last movie, Santo en la furia de los karatekas in 1982. Some years back I picked up some of his DVDs that had been subtitled in English. I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to find his movies on DVD should you want to.

In spite of Rodolfo Guzman Huerta's passing in 1984, Santo lives on in songs, cartoons, comic books, action figures and movies. Hopefully his legend will continue for a long time to come.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hootenanny, Hell Yeah!

Here is one of the coolest CD's ever for the Halloween season. And I mean ever! If you're a fan of bands like Southern Culture on the Skids, The Ghastly Ones, Reverend Horton Heat, Los Straitjackets, Rob Zombie, to name only a few, then you'll love this collection of Horror rave-ups from Zombie A Go-Go Records...

Halloween Hootenanny - 1998 - Geffen Records Inc.
I picked this CD up at the sorely missed East Side Records in Tempe Arizona some years back. I've already got stuff by some of the bands in this collection, and picking this one up was a no-brainer. The fun is kicked off by horror-host Zacherle and doesn't stop until the end (which is as good a place as any, right?) blasting out surf-tinged Horror and Rockabilly A-La Go Go to get than inner monster inside you out of the morgue and into the parlor where the action is. Okay, once again, I love this stuff. It reminds me never to grow up and take life too seriously like those stuffed shirts we all see at the office every day with their Starbucks in hand and the sticks up their....well you know who I'm talking about. Contributors include: Swingin' Neckbreakers, Davie Allen and the Phantom Surfers, The Bomboras, The Amazing Crowns, The Born Losers, and The Legendary Invisible Men, to name a few more. If this stuff doesn't get the bones a-rattlin' then you must be dead, man!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Is that a Gat in Your Pocket?

In keeping with my Halloween themed posts this month I have an old Shell Scott caper from the cool year of 1962.

Fawcett Gold Medal, 1962
Anyone who is a fan of detective fiction, especially mid-century American gumshoe variety, will enjoy Richard Prather's Shell Scott novels. Running from the 1950's and through the 1960's, they're everything Mike Hammer wasn't. Meaning fun. Scott was the kind of guy you'd like to share a bourbon with, unlike Hammer. The books are a hoot. They're sexist, violent and loaded with outrageous situations, all delivered with a cool tongue planted firmly in cheek. Kill the Clown takes place on Halloween as our hero Shell Scott attends an underworld costume party disguised as a clown, which is a good thing, since Shell Scott has probably the most distinct features in all of detective fiction: Snow-white hair that stands straight up, snow-white arched eyebrows, sun-bronzed skin, and an ear with a bullet torn chunk missing from it. Not exactly a chap who blends into the scenery. And for a ugly cuss, Shell has no shortage of action with the dames.

At the door, she kissed me again. You may not believe it, but it was even better than the first two times - yeah, I was keeping track. This was the third time that was the charm, an osculatory torch to cremate resolutions and inhibitions, a kiss that could melt fillings and make a eunich's voice change overnight...

As you can see, the novel is loaded with some set of babes. And this one one kissing Shell Scott above is his client. But that isn't all that's got him up in a lather. Here's another passage descibing a dish who is a possible accomplice to a murdering goon:

She was a criminal all right. Her eyes were at least a misdemeanor, and those wicked lips were felonious...She wore skin-tight blue Capris, nothing on her feet except red nail polish, a billowy white blouse beneath which there was nothing billowing but Lolita, and all in all she was clearly the best argument against girdles since volleyball in nudist camps...Just standing there she looked hot enough to bake potatoes, and if she started running around the room it was eight to five she'd burn the joint down.

Well, you get the idea of the kind of book you're in for. In a word: a blast. Yeah it's not all ogling the babes either for our hero. There is plenty of gat action to go around. Prather knew how to keep the pace brisk, the action popping and the humor rolling. As far as a mystery, there really isn't one as such. In this novel, Shell has to race the clock to find the evidence that would free an innocent man from the gas chamber. Which all culminates in a Halloween party to make the ones I've been to seem like a Red Hat Society meeting. The bullets fly, the dames screech, and the knuckles play teeth like xylophones. Trick or Treat indeed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Warren Glory

This was the kind of stuff that always grabbed my eye when I was a kid going to the local convenient market up the street from my house. I rarely bought this stuff, knowing my parents would not approve. These are just a few taken from my collection.

CREEPY #91 August 1977 - Warren Magazines. Cover by Frank Frazetta
I don't think there is a cover yet by Frank Frazetta that isn't great. If there is, I haven't seen it.

Here is one that looks like one of those awesome Black-Light posters we used to have in our bedrooms.

EERIE #77 Sept 1976 - Warren Magazines, Cover by Rich Corben
I also have a couple similar themed coveres below from Sanjulian for EERIE from 1972. I picked these to show because A) I like them, and B) I don't know anything about the cover artist. Perhaps someone seeing these can enlighten me. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them. Any faults you'll find will rest only with my photography and not the artwork. First is EERIE #40.

EERIE #40 June 1977 - Warren Magazines, cover by Sanjulian
Also here is EERIE #41 August 1972 - Warren Magazines, cover by Sanjulian

I'll have others to post as we get closer to Halloween. CREEPY and EERIE are back in print thanks to Dark Horse Comic. Also, Dark Horse is reprinting the entire run of EERIE and CREEPY in hardback, with full color reprints of the terrific covers. So if this is your thing, you're in luck.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"I'll Be Lurking for You....."

Most of my favorite television memories are from when I was a kid growing up in Tampa Florida and watching Fright Theater and Creature Feature on WTOG, Channell 44, hosted by Dr. Paul Bearer (Dick Bennick, Sr.) every Saturday.

This quickie clip gives you an idea of the kind of humor and movies Dr. Paul Bearer would bring to the boys and ghouls every Saturday afternoon and late night. Every bad joke and pun was something only a kid would love. He would also have guests like Jack the Ripper and his Mummy. His hosting run in the Tenement Castle, located somewhere in St. Creaturesburg, began in 1971, I believe, and continued long after I'd grown up and moved away, until his death in 1995. A long, long haunt. I discovered him in 5th grade which would have been around 1974, and the first movie I remember seeing on his show was Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers. How's that for a useless memory? Actually, fond memories of trying to stay up on Saturday nights for Fright Theater's double feature, and hardly ever making it until the end, waking up sometime in the middle of the night to a sign-off screen, or a church show. Sometimes I would set my alarm for 11 PM, thinking if I got a couple hours sleep in first, I could make it through both movies. At some point Fright Theater went to a single feature before dropping entirely, but by then I'd discovered other things to do on Saturday night. Still, there was always Creature Feature to get your dose of Dr. Paul Bearer's excruciating puns and "horrible old movies."

Dr. Paul Bearer often made personal appearances around Tampa Bay, including the Gasparilla Day Parade in his Cadillac Hearse. I made it to one of his appearances at a stereo shop when I was in 6th grade and got a signed photograph that I've long since lost.

I miss old Dr. Paul Bearer and his horrible old movies, but am heartened to know that plenty others out there remember him fondly as well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That Stuff'll Rot Your Brain!

We know all about EC Comics from the early 50's contaminating young baby-boomers' minds with lurid depictions of ghouls and maniacs, and how the government, through pressures from the usual sources (we all know who they are and they never seem to go away) laid the smackdown on the comic industry. And mostly from evidence built on fear and hysteria and flimsy research. But EC wasn't the only game in town. Far from it, as the terrific book, Four Color Fear: Forgotten Horror Comics of the 1950's, edited by Greg Sadowski, shows.

Fantagraphics Books, 2010
Inside this book are collected stories from a wide range of titles including Voodoo, Web of Evil, Weird Mysteries, Strange Mysteries, to name only a few. Artists include Bob Powell, Jack Cole, Joe Kubert, Sid Check & Frank Frazetta among others. Greg Sadowski includes detailed notes on each of the stories selected and, as an added bonus, page after page of some of the coolest covers you've ever splashed your peepers on. If you were a kid in 1952 getting an eyeful of these covers at your local drugstore or newsstand, there was no way that dime was staying in your pocket. Those of us who came along years later missed out, but thanks to reprints and books like this one we can see for ourselves what all the fuss was about. Take that, Grandma!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Music for Little Monsters

More music for the season. This cool CD from Buffalo Bop is a collection of rockabilly horror from the 50's. Sort of the original Psychobilly, but with that "lo-fi 50's blast" as it's promised on the label.

Monster Bop, Buffalo Bop, CD 55013
This CD is as much fun as fist full of jawbreakers, a bottle of rootbeer and a stack of Monster Magazines. Just the kind of stuff to rot one's young mind and take up cigarrette smoking and chasing girls of loose morals. I have a stack of these Buffalo Bop compilations, made in Germany, and each one of them is a blast. This one makes it to the disk player every year about this time. 30 songs of greasy rockabilly horror to get your toes tappin' and your fingers snappin'. Songs include "Rocking in the Graveyard" by Jackie Morningstar, "The Head Hunters" by Mike Fern, "Graveyard" by The Phantom Five, "You Can Call Him Frankenstein" by The Castle Kings, and more. Really, there isn't a dud on the disk in my humble opinion. But then, I love this stuff.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Good Ghosts for October

October is my favorite month. The weather finally turns cool, for Phoenix anyway. The nights come quicker and the moon gets its groove on, especially on cloudy nights. October is also the month for horror stories. I like my horror in all manner of styles. This month  I'll be posting about some of my favorite horror that I've read and seen as well as some I'd like to discover for myself.

Dover Publications, Inc. 1964
Best Ghost Stories of J.S. Le Fanu is a perfect book for October. This edition contains Le Fanu's best known tales, including "Carmilla" and "Green Tea" in addition to "The Haunted Baronet" and "The Familiar," "The Dead Sexton," "Shalken the Painter" and others. "Carmilla" alone is a classic and deserves to be read by any fan of horror, especially of the vampire variety. The terrific cover above illustrates a scene from "Carmilla." Not just a cool vampire tale, but an early, early lesbian vampire tale. Consider what a kick this would have been when read by candlelight back in the day. It's still a kick now. Another nice thing about this book is that it's illustrated throughout. Well okay, maybe it's not chock-full 'o illustrations, but it has some pictures you can spook the kiddies with.

I have to admit that I haven't read all of the stories in this collection but I've read many of them. They're leisurely paced, not your thrill-ride horror that is expected today. Still, that hardly takes the fun out of them.

There are many editions of Le Fanu's stories out there to pick from. Probably the easiest to find is In a Glass Darkly which contains some of the stories collected here. Also, much of Le Fanu's works can be obtained through eReaders and libraries for free. And if you're in the mood for something longer, I would also recommend his novel Uncle Silas which contains a young heiress, an evil governess, a brutal villain, locked room murders, and an increasingly smothering sense of dread. You've always wondered why the sound of rattling chains is supposed to be scary, right?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Drowning in Lake Noir

Joyce Carol Oates has always been a tough one for me. I'd been exposed to many of her short stories in college and read them with indifference. Yet I knew there had to be something there for me. Her vision is so dark and violent, so disturbing that I was convinced I just hadn't given her a fair enough shot.

I few years ago, I became interested in the Gothic novel. I'm talking about the real deal like Mysteries of Udalpho and Melmoth the Wanderer and Vathek for examples. Well, hunting down those books kind of left me cold. Along the way I became curious about modern Gothic novels which brought me back to Joyce Carol Oates.

Bellefleur, Warner Books, 1981
I'd picked up my copy at a garage sale for change. I have to admit I was a little intimidated by the length, almost 900 pages. And again, this was Joyce Carol Oates, someone whose style I didn't exactly take to easily. The book sat around the shelves. I'd pull it down, then put it back and grab something by Mickey Spillane or Jim Thompson instead. And it waited for me.

Eventually I took the plunge. It wasn't long into the novel that I learned to abandon any pursuit of a linear plot. I just wasn't going to get it. Nor were there any timeline and historical perspectives to latch onto. The Bellefleurs world was a universe unto themselves, high up in their castle above the troubled waters of Lake Noir. Within its walls there lived betrayal, jealousy, madness, magic and mystery, a hermit, a shapeshifter, a murderer and more than one ghost.

I loved it.

As it's now October and the air should be turning crisp enough to see your breath, and as the leaves fall and crackle on the sidewalks, Bellefleur is just the sort of book to lose yourself in. If it sounds like it might be your kind of thing, then give it a shot.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Forgotten Nugget 'O Fuzzy Soul

Here is an old album I picked up late last year from Revolver Records in Phoenix. It's Black Pearl's self titled album released in 1969 on Atlantic Records.

It's been described by some as Pysch Rock or Boogie Woogie Rock. To me, there isn't really much Psych in it. It's straight up fuzz guitar driven rock. The lead singer, B.B. Fieldings taps into his love of R&B and Soul and belts out each song as if it's the last one of the night and the whisky bottle is almost empty. Growls and screams and wails abound on this disk, all the while that fuzz guitar is wrapping around his voice like a jagged leather serpent.

I bought this one cold, never having heard of them before. The first play I wasn't too sure about it, but it's kind of grown on me since. Plus I'm a sucker for that ratty-assed fuzz guitar sound that was prevalent in the 60's garage rock scene.

Dig it and see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Blast Off, Grandpa!

I was in 9th grade when I found this book at the Town 'n County branch public library. I'd read a few "Science Fiction" stories by Ray Bradbury (more on him in a future post) and had seen every Star Trek episode numerous times on Channel 44. Same for The Twilight Zone and (even rarer) reruns of The Outer Limits. But nothing before it had kicked of my love for pulp Sci-Fi like this book did.

Pulling it from the library shelf, I had no idea what the Golden Age of the title even meant. All I knew was that, from the dreadful present of the 1970's, the 1930's was a hell of a long time ago. I looked at the table of contents and saw stories like "The World of the Red Sun" and "Parasite Planet" and the irrestible "The Brain Stealers of Mars" and knew right away I was going home with it.

I can remember reading the first story "The Man Who Evolved" by Edmund Hamilton (April 1931 - Wonder Stories) and how it bowled me over. Nothing in my reading experience had equaled the suspense and wonder that Hamilton's story evoked. In it, Dr. John Pollard, discovers that a concentrated dose of "cosmic rays" with their "harmful properties" filtered out can speed up the process of evolution from thousands of years to mere minutes. And what better subject to test his process on, in the true spirit of mad science, than himself, with his assistant documenting the process. Of course, things start out great and soon turn nightmarish. I'd never heard of Edmund Hamilton before, but knew that I had a new author to look for.

The book is loaded with adventure, wonder, evil, terror and triumph, all delivered in full color pulp glory. I didn't have the original covers to look at, but I had a hell of a show playing in the "theater of my mind" to borrow a phrase from Flaubert.

Other stories included are: "The Jameson Satellite" by Neil R. Jones, "Submicroscopic" by Capt. S.P. Meek (I wondered why "Captain" then and still do now), "Awlo of Ulm" by our same Captain Meek, "Tetrahedra of Space" by Schuyler Miller, "The World of the Red Sun" by Clifford D. Simak, "Tumithak of the Corridors" and its sequel "Tumithak of Shawm" by Charles R. Tanner, "The Moon Era" by Jack Williamson, "The Man Who Awoke" by Laurence Manning, "Colossus" by Donald Wandrei, "Sideways in Time" by Murray Leinster, "Old Faithful" by Raym,ond Z. Gallum, "The Parasite Planet" by Stanley G. Weinbaum, "Proxima Centauri" by Murray Leinster, "The Accursed Galaxy" by Edmund Hamilton, "He Who Shrank" by Henry Hasse, "The Human Pets of Mars" by Leslie Frances Stone, "The Brain Stealers of Mars" by John W. Campbell, Jr., "Devolution" by Edmund Hamilton (three for this guy!) and "Big Game" by Isaac Asimov, "Other Eyes Watching" by Campbell again, "Minus Planet" by John D. Clark, "Past, Present and Future" by John D. Clark, and "The Men in the Mirror" by Ross Rocklynne.  Whewww....

The book was printed in paperback in 1975 but in three separate volumes to handle the length. I suppose they could have crammed the whole thing into one single paperback and had the length of your average Michener novel, but...

Anyway, it's a motherload of pulp action, romance and wonder delivered when stories were fun by wordsmiths who wrote their hearts out for our entertainment.

Find it, you won't be sorry.