An interview with C.C. Beck

Captain Marvel 7 web

The Hogan’s Alley website (“the magazine of the cartoon arts”) published this interview with C.C. Beck, the artist who created so many Captain Marvel stories over the years – the real/original Captain Marvel, the Big Red Cheese, who has been changed over the years to the point where the character is fairly unrecognizable.

Captain Marvel had a huge influence on Myke Phoenix, from the concept of a normal person changing bodies with a mighty warrior to the whimsical tone I tried to inject into the tales, especially as time went by. Mostly, though, I am charmed by those old stories for many, many reasons, not the least of which was how much fun they were, but …

Well, read what went on in the background for yourself.


What are the odds

After inhaling All Around the Town, a novel by Mary Higgins Clark, in one weekend, I decided to try another of her mystery-suspense stories and pulled the only available audiobook out of the local library: No Place Like Home.

I was immediately put off by the book’s outlandish premise: A woman who killed her mother accidentally at age 10 while protecting her from her brutal stepfather has pledged to her dying first husband not to reveal her past to anyone again – and her second husband just happens to buy her a new house for her birthday that just happens to be the childhood home where her mother died.

The monstrous coincidence – which I presumed would turn out not to be a coincidence – and the character’s reticence to tell her husband the truth (her husband!!!), almost put me off to continuing the story.

But then the narrator explained where the story is set: It all comes down in Mendham, New Jersey, less than five miles from where I spent the second half of my childhood. What are the odds, of all the books in the world, I would randomly pick up one that was set in my hometown?

If that kind of coincidence is possible in the real world, why not the crazy coincidence Clark asks me to accept in hers? So off we went …

scene 6

(scene 1, part 1)  (scene 1, part 2) (scene 2)(scene 3)(scene 4)(scene 5)

To make sure the sheriff and his four-armed pal didn’t notice us, we pushed the truck in neutral for a couple of blocks before I turned on the ignition and we hopped inside. And I didn’t turn on the headlights until we were a mile away.

We didn’t say anything for a long time. Then, as I slowed to make the turn toward my place, Stella said, “No, not yet – we need to get to Pete’s. I have to tell him about this.”

“Pete? Why?”

“Just drive, Hank.”

It didn’t make sense, but nothing else was making sense that night, so I drove.

“Should we call ahead?” I said and immediately realized how stupid it was to ask that.

“Pete’s off the grid,” she said, stating the obvious at the same instant I said, “Never mind, how dumb am I?”

And then I finally pulled out of the shock enough to blow up. Continue reading

Remembering The First Dog There Was


It was the evening of Feb. 7, 1959. Dad took me and my two brothers for a ride in the car. I don’t remember the pretext or where we went. I just remember when we got home, Mom was sitting in the living room and a dog was sitting in front of her.

Lady was a good dog – a medium-sized, brown and white mutt with maybe a beagle’s face but a stub of a tail. She ran like the wind playing keep-away with a dishpan of all things. For most of the next 10 years she was an integral part of the family, joined eventually by a succession of cats.

There was only the one dog while we were growing up, but the three boys became men and keepers of other dogs.

When I write and share photos of our lovely companions, Willow The Best Dog There Is™ and Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars, I sometimes remember Lady, the patient and loving canine who introduced my family to the joy of dogs.

Three dogs through the years have especially seized my heart – Poppins, the little collie mix who appeared, abandoned, at the door of the radio station one summer day; Tucker, the undersized German shepherd who arrived in my arms (hands, really) as a tiny puppy; and Willow, who melts my heart daily (Yes, Dejah, you’re a special dog, too, but Willow got there first).

It all began with Lady, though, whose coming was so momentous that it’s the first event in my lifetime to which I ever affixed the exact date. review of The Other Side of Everything

other-side-of-everythingThe plucky New England regional magazine Riverboro Rocks is hanging in there – barely – as most plucky print publications are these days. Plucky owner-editor Piper Hadley Hammond starts a blog to chronicle daily life in her small town and perhaps increase interest in the monthly magazine.

Author Linda Spitzfaden weaves the blog posts and their comment sections together with the narrative of that crucial November in Riverboro. When an unexpected (except to the magazine’s mysterious Weather Oracle) early winter storm raises the river banks and knocks out power to much of the town, an ashram of six monks takes shelter at Piper’s ancestral home, adding to the magazine staff, family members and friends who always seem to be dropping by. Continue reading

Stop the car! It’s Christmas

Kris: You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I’ve been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.

Mrs. Walker: Oh, I don’t think so, Christmas is still Christmas.

Kris: Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.

(Now there’s a sentiment that seems more relevant than ever.

Miracle on 34th Street is an updating of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as the main character is/characters are in need of a dose of the Christmas spirit. Edmund Gwenn’s performance as Santa Claus is second only (in my humble opinion) to Alistair Sims’ immortal turn as Ebeneezer Scrooge. And Natalie Woods’ job as the Scrooge-like little girl is an all-time tear jerker. I love this final scene. (Do not click if you haven’t seen the film – go see it from the beginning!)