Sunday, September 30, 2012


 Smallmouth Bass, Cape Girardeau, MO.
 Fox, Cape Girardeau, MO.
Longhorn, Taylor, MS, where I had a terrific dinner of blackened catfish, hushpuppies, fried okra and beer drunk from plastic cups snuck in from the parking lot because it was Sunday. Thanks Jack, Theresa, Chris and Melissa!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Human Remains for Sale, Paris, 1985

I'll bet that headline is going to get me some interesting Google searches. This skeletal hand and its companion foot were on sale at a bookstall on the Left Bank of the Seine in that halcyon summer of 1985:
Sorry I've been backsliding this week! I've been busy scanning and cleaning up old negatives like this one. Tomorrow I head for Oxford, Mississippi to talk to my friend Jack Pendarvis's class about Wichita in the 1940s, thence to Atlanta, Georgia to record some video with my friend Lane Davies, thence to Columbia, Tennessee to see my cousin Lindsey Page and then to Nashville to visit Roy Acuff's Record Store! So believe you me I will have lots to blog about.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Slightly Naughty Stereo View

From 1897:

Oh, Stop! he says, but don't you believe him. This young temptress is determined to make the elderly bald gent yield his honor, and I believe he will!

That's all I got today.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AWOL Russian Soldier in Budapest, 1990

In 1990 I went with my friends Mike Gebert and Susan Snyder to Budapest. A large number of Russian soldiers were still there, just because of the logistical difficulties involved in repatriating so many troops from so many different countries all at once. We met this guy on a pedestrian bridge selling Russian army insignias, pins and caps:
I don't know for a fact that he was AWOL but the hair and chin fur suggest he's been spared a military grooming for a while. No idea what happened to the medallion I bought.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More Conundrum Enigma!

Here's another section from my friend and protegé Troy Cutcross's Masterpiece of Modern Suspense, The Conundrum Enigma, a Colonel Charlie "Doughnuts" Duncan Sexy Thriller by Troy Cutcross: A Novel. This is the thrilling end of Chapter Fifteen and the gripping start of Chapter Sixteen.

        Charlie had always wondered about the center of the Earth, because he had read as a little boy that it was full of molten lava that would burn you up instantly if you ever went there, just like the sun. He took that seriously, especially since a crew of his astronaut buddies had been burned to a crisp when the space agency made a terrible miscalculation about “how close was too close” on a risky solar mission to the sun a couple of years earlier. If “Doughnuts” hadn’t tranfered from the Astronaut Corps to the Agency to be a spy instead, he might have caught the miscalculation, because in addition to his other qualities he was an expert in math.
         But he had his own theories about the center of the earth, because frankly how did anyone know what was there if we’d never gone there? Just another bunch of pointy-headed scientist types sitting in their “ivory tower” and making educated guesses. Charlie’s hunch was that the earth was actually hollow, and that there was life down there. Not human life but some sort of giant insect, possibly, because insects are the only animals that live on all the continents except for birds, crabs and fish. The notion that they might have developed some sort of civilization seemed unlikely, but a hundred years ago so had the idea of radio or the internet, and two hundred years before that no one had even heard of a dumbwaiter or bifocals, which were invented by Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin!

         Charlie was listening to a tech guy explain how the machine worked that he’d be using to go down to the earth’s core. It was boring because he knew most of it already and was smarter than the guy explaining it, but he paid attention anyway, a habit he’d learned as a student at Eton, a fancy school in England where James Bond went.
         “We’ve adapted the ion technology that you developed for the spaceship and combined it with the new science we learned from the Russian’s spaceship that you so bravely commandeered, or stole,” the old technology chief said, his glasses slipping down over his egghead nose. “This will allow you to drill to the center of the earth in a relatively short time and prevent that bomb from detonating, or going off.”
         “Understood, Major Mallard,” said “Doughnuts,” because his name was Major Mallard. “Did you use the thrillium casing for the hull?”
         “Exactly!” the old codger spat, because his dentures didn’t fit exactly right and he was too busy with his experiments and such to get some new ones fitted. “Thrillium/Pentonium alloy, just as you suggested in your recent scientific paper to the International Conference of Vehicular Metalurgy!”
         It was funny but Charlie had forgotten he’d even written that paper, because so many things had happened since, and not just his makeout sessions with Tammi and Svetlana plus his temporary sex change. “I’m glad to know it served a purpose.”
         A large ribbon of snot started seeping out of the old man’s nostril, the result no doubt of a cold or some allergies, but Charlie was too respectful of his elders to laugh at it. Instead he ignored it and thought about the team they were putting together.
         “Besides myself, we’ll need someone young and plucky,” he opined thoughtfully, “someone who understands all the different layers of the earth before we get to the fiery center where Toborsky intends to plant his bomb.”
         “Yes,” replied Mallard. “Ideally a geologist, which is someone who studies that very subject. We have a very good one in the science department––Dr. Petulia Drake, Ph. D.”
         “Hold on––a lady scientist?”
         “She’s very good, ‘Doughnuts,’” countered the older man.
         “It’s not that, I’m sure she is,” because Charlie wasn’t the kind of spy who thought women were just playthings or “eye candy,” but rather competent specimens of spycraft who were every bit as capable as their man counterparts of killing with their bare hands. “It’s just––is she stacked?”
         “And how,” chuckled the Major devilishly while making the outline of a woman’s sexy body in the air with his hands in the universal man-code for “woman’s sexy body.” “Wait until you get a load of her….”
         “That’s the problem. Tammi’s out of commission, sex-wise. And I nearly got into a whole lot of trouble with Svetlana when we were in outer space. I just don’t want to get in any deeper than I already am.”
         “I’m sure she’ll be a consummate, or total, professional. Now you’ll also need a doctor along to treat the burns that come from the extreme heat of the earth’s core, and that doctor must also be a spy or else she wouldn’t have ‘clearance.’ Unfortunately for you, the only one available is also a very sexy woman.”
         Another string of snot was coming out of the Major’s other nostril and he looked so much like a walrus that this time Charlie had to laugh. Mallard was upset until Charlie explained it and then they had a good laugh.

         That night over a romantic candlelight dinner Duncan explained to Tammi that two of the crew to the center of the Earth would be sexy ladies, and she pouted but she already knew because she was the acting head of the agency and got “briefed” all the time about stuff. “Anyway this mission is super important now, because all the governments in the world today received blackmail threats from Toborsky warning them that unless they paid up the world would end.”
         “Good Lord,” Charlie said, so shocked that he blasphemed for the first time in a long time. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before?”
         She shrugged as though it wasn’t important. “I’m telling you now. Oh, there’s one more thing. He made one extra demand of the US government besides money.”
         “What’s that?”
         “He wants us to turn you over to him, unarmed!”


         Luckily for Colonel Charlie “Doughnuts” Duncan the President of the United States had rejected that as a stupid idea, although he didn’t tell the Cosmonaut that. Instead he told him he’d think about it.
         “Thank you, Mr. President,” Charlie said over the video phone on his wrist.
         “No, thank you, Colonel, for all your services to this, the greatest country in the world. We’re lucky to have a man of your caliber on our side. I recognize that, as the highest IQ ever recorded, you could have gone on and done other things, like research and the other things you do in your spare time, but you chose to devote your massive brain to national service. Did you ever hear that story about President Kennedy hosting a dinner for a bunch of smarties with Nobel Prizes and things, and he said ‘This is the greatest assembly of brain power this room has ever known, except for when Thomas Jefferson designed a time machine and had dinner with Galileo and Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin.’ That’s a classified story, by the way, Colonel.”
         “Call me ‘Doughnuts,’ Mr. President.”
         The President chuckled in his familiar way. “Then, ‘Doughnuts,’ you have to call me Newt.”
         “Roger, Newt, over and out,” he said, signifying that their conversation was over. He was a little misty-eyed at the great man’s refusal to sell him out to Toborsky just to save the world, but he shook it off and climbed aboard the Phantom Menace, which was named after another one of Charlie’s favorite movies. He met the rest of the crew, taking care not to look at their breasts except in the quickest and most polite manner, because he’d learned the hard way that breasts are not just playthings.
         “I’m Dr. Petulia Drake, Colonel,” the first sexy lady said, and as luck would have it the uniforms they were wearing were skintight and made of latex because of the incredible pressure underground which would put a terrible strain on ordinary clothing. She had long curly red hair and freckles and she reminded Duncan of his neighbor when he lived in a dorm in college and how she used to smile at him but he never got up the nerve to talk to her, which was funny now because he was so self-confident but since he had a girlfriend he couldn’t do anything about it.
         “And I’m Dr. Madge Trask, MD,” said the other gorgeous woman standing there in front of him. She was petite and also short, but her breasts were still large and round….and very attractive.
         “Damn it,” he cursed, though it was not his habit to do so in front of attractive ladies, or unattractive ones, for that matter, except that he had just realized something that might have jeopardized the very mission they were about to undertake! “I completely forgot to assign a Russian specialist to our crew. I could kick myself!”
         Dr. Madge Trask smiled a very sexy smile. “Don’t worry about it, tiger, I speak it like a native.”
         Charlie raised one eyebrow in a sardonic, or witty, way and delivered a witticism. “Funny, ‘Trask’ doesn’t sound like a Russian name.”
         Now Dr. Madge put her hands sexily on her hips and smirked in a seductive way. “It’s not! But I went to Junior Year abroad there. It’s not so hard, once you get the hang of that weird alphabet.”
         “All right. I’m going to settle into my cabin for a few minutes before we take off and look through my mail.” He held up the stack of missives and journals. “I just got my latest issue of ‘Gentleman,’ and there’s an article I want to read.”
         “Right,” Petulia chortled.
         “Sure,” Dr. Madge concurred. “You just read it for the articles, like everyone else!”
         He knew it was just good-natured ribbing but he had to “nip it in the bud,” or stop it right away, because he was the commander of the mission and they didn’t know him well enough to be making those kinds of friend-to-friend jokes yet.
         “As a matter of fact, ladies, I do read it for the articles. And the fiction, though I’ve no time now for short stories or such fripperies. And yes, the magazine is filled with pictures of ladies in their underpants and nothing else, but I skip right over those pictures because I have a girlfriend––one who happens to be head of this agency!”
         “We’re sorry, sir,” Dr. Madge apologized.
         “We were just trying to establish some of the camaraderie that goes so far toward establishing esprit de corps, or unit cohesion,” Petulia explained.
         “I know, girls,” Charlie said. “There’ll be time for that later, once we’ve defeated the evil Cosmonaut.”
         “Now that he’s at the center of the earth, isn’t Cosmonaut kind of the wrong nickname?” Petulia asked.
         “You’re right,” said Dr. Madge, “since it’s Russian for ‘Astronaut.’ How about ‘Comrade,’ which is Russian for ‘Fellow Communist?’ Or just ‘Ivan,’ which is Russian for ‘John’?”

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Perversion for Profit

While looking for public domain educational and propaganda footage for the book trailer for the second Noir at the Bar anthology (coming soon!) I discovered this gem in the Internet Archive. It's from the Prelinger Archives, and it was produced circa 1965 by, among others, Charles Keating, later a United States senator ruined by the Keating Five scandal. Back then he was an anti-porn crusader (he's a character in Milos Forman's "The People vs. Larry Flynt) and his Citizens for Decent Literature, Inc. made this sweet little picture. It's full of images of the smut it claims to vilify, and much of it is kinky stuff you'd have to have hunted pretty hard for in the sixties. The amzaingly great narrator is George Putnam, in a highly aroused state of high dudgeon.  (Click on the link, not the pic.)
You're welcome.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I found my old B. Dalton Bookseller nametag in a box of old slides I've been scanning:
This provoked a very vivid B. Dalton dream last night. In the same box, three photo booth pictures from around 1982, smack dab in the middle of the B. Dalton years:

In the top one I'm doing my Stan Laurel face. I also had Stan Laurel hair. I was very, very young. And callow!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Two-Dimensional Celebrities

 More treasures from the Pink Elephant! Above, the King. Below, Cher, even more weathered than the real one.
The elephant has been repainted since this pic was taken. That is all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Creepy Creepy Old West Waxwork Figures

 These used to be at the always fascinating Pink Elephant Antique Mall in Livingston, IL, where I have picked up many an interesting bit of Americana.
I think they came from a wax museum or Old West theme park that went out of business. They weren't in the best of shape by the time I took these pics.
I think this one's supposed to be Jesse or Frank James. His shirt needs washing, in either case.

 Those gloves are empty! Plus the left arm seems to have become disconnected from the shoulder, adding to the walking-dead vibe.
Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley are somewhat better preserved, at least from a few feet away.

Uh-oh--that buckskin's looking a little frayed. Let's get a better look at Miss Jane-- 
 Good lord! She has the eyebrows of a Yeti! Let's look a bit closer at Bill:
GAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaahhhhHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! Back away, hellspawn!
 That's better. A little better. Still he looks like a cadaver painted up by a frontier undertaker after a week in the hot sun.
 And this feller was the only one not for sale (see sign.) He's the only one not made of wax, and he has his own wheelchair!
 I suspect this is why he wasn't for sale: Look at his mouth. Peer inside. Yes, that's right--he talks!
I took these pictures a few years ago, and the other figures are gone--probably sold--
--but the Old Timer is still there at the Pink Elephant, greeting customers as they come in through the door. Pay him a visit if you're traveling I-55 through Illinois.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Cabinet of Dr. Sweeney, plus Bonus Ghost Sign

 A couple of years ago my filmmaker friend Mark W. Stone took me on a tour of the neighborhood where Dr. Francis Sweeney, almost certainly Cleveland's infamous Torso Killer, had his practice.
 Which building it was is impossible to say at this point, but these were the buildings that held those sorts of offices at that time.
 This one still houses some medical offices.
 On the right, a library converted into a chapel.....

 And here, windows both broken and boarded up.
And finally, a really nice Ghost Sign, in multiple languages (Czech?) advertising Mail Pouch tobacco.

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Nudes in Nature: Arundel Holmes Nicholls

 Here are the last two of the Nicholls 8x10s from the estate sale the other week:
Thislady seems to come from an earlier era than the one below, whose bob places her squarely in the Jazz Age as opposed to the Edwardian.
She looks rather pixieish as well....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ghost Signs, Beverage-Related

 The first two were taken in Nice, France in 1987. I don't know if they really qualify as Ghost Signs since they're painted on glass, but the loveliness of their deterioration is similar. As always, click to enlarge!
And this one is from Brussels in 1982--too modern to be a proper Ghost Sign, perhaps (the number at the bottom reads 1/23/68, which could be a date, though in Europe it's usually Day/Month/Year.) 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Major Astro, circa 1970

In Wichita we had several memorable kiddie show hosts (Cap'n Bill, played by Bill MacLain, Freddie Fudd, supposedly Elmer's cousin, played by Henry Harvey) but none loomed as large in our little cartoon-addled minds as Channel Three's Major Astro, played by Tom Leahy, who also served as The Host on KARD's late-night horror movie show "Nightmare" (the prime inspiration for Joel Sanderson's brilliant "Basement Sublet of Horror").
 The show began in the days of the Mercury program, but as you can see by the Moonbase set above, it was still running well into the Apollo years.
 Here the Major waves, looking like he's giving his signature sign-off line, "Happy orbits, boys and girls!" I met Tom once when my friend Jeff Killian interviewed him in his home, and I was running one of two video cameras. In the interview, Tom was very, very funny, (he referred to the character as "The Maj") and afterwards he invited us to have a drink with him. Jeff and the other cameraman demurred, as it was before noon, but I wasn't by God going to pass up the chance to have a snort with Major Astro. He gave me a glass of white wine and said "I believe I'll have something stronger myself." Then he poured himself a good-sized tumbler of scotch.

The viewing screen behind him to his left is where the cartoons would first appear before going full-screen.  I believe Jeff gave me these pictures in the late eighties to print; I just found them in a box of old slides. Most likely they came from The Maj himself. Tom died a year or two ago, mourned by thousands of Wichita's former kiddie-show viewers. Rest in Peace, Maj!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

More Cake, More Lady

Here she is again, continuing her journey into erotic reverie, Jazz Age-style. Here's #10:
 She's lighting candles again, but without the wistful look! What do you suppose happened in #9, which is missing from my set? (I'm not quite sure if I ever had it.)
#11: Here she seems to have lapsed back into a pleasant state of sexy thoughtfulness, or thoughtful sexiness. Maybe she's thinking about Gilbert Roland, or maybe she's more of a William S. Hart kind of gal, or maybe she's dreaming of Lilian Gish's loving embrace.
 In #12 she just had an especially naughty thought.
 And in #13 she's looking right at you again, as though she just remembered she's being photographed.
 And finally, in #14, she gives in to temptation and uncovers her lovely bosom and slides her diaphonous garment  twixt her nether limbs!
And for some reason the breasts are covered again in #15, the last in the series. I wonder what ever happened to her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Alfred E. Neuman twelve feet tall!

These giants can be found around the nation, often holding a giant axe or a colossal tire. This one, however, is the only one I know of with Alfred E. Neuman's head, missing tooth miraculously restored!
 I took this at the intersection of 43rd and Cambridge in Kansas City around 1985. Does anyone know if this is still standing? The film was motion picture print stock (don't ask) which made it unusually hard to scan and correct. Note, please, the image of Alfred E. on the banner above the storefront!

This has been your obscure midwestern signage report. Next: Vintage erotica!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Illinois Haunted House

 After dropping my kid off at camp this summer Mrs. Phillips and I passed by this Haunted House attraction in rural Illinois.
 I imagine that in-season this portasign is illuminated and marked with directions. Or maybe it isn't. Maybe it just sits there.
 "In season" would be right about now. I should go up there and check it out! Or you should.
 Here's the sign you see as you're driving away. See the tiny little car next to it for scale!

That's all I have in terms of rural haunted house attractions.